United States v. Ortiz-Vega, No. 14-1693 (1st Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
The First Circuit remanded this case for further proceedings, holding that the district court abused its discretion in failing to rule on the merits of Appellant’s ineffective assistance claim prior to sentencing.
Appellant was charged with several counts related to a drug distribution conspiracy. Appellant was originally represented by court-appointed counsel, but after seven months Defendant retained private counsel Prior to sentencing, Appellant raised his ineffective assistance of counsel claim, arguing that his prior counsel allegedly failed to provide him with effective assistance throughout plea negotiations. The district court declined to rule on Appellant’s claim, finding it to be “premature.” Appellant ultimately pled guilty to a high plea offer negotiated by his new counsel. The First Circuit disagreed with the district court’s ruling, holding that, at times, it may be imperative for a district court to rule on a claim of ineffective assistance prior to the defendant seeking post-conviction relief, and such was true in this case.