Walters v. Martin, No. 19-7391 (4th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Walters entered his ex-girlfriend’s home, struck her with a hammer, and left with her cell phone and $700. Walters was arrested and charged in West Virginia state court with first-degree robbery, malicious assault, and burglary. Public defender Stanley represented him. In March, the state extended a plea offer. Stanley’s office timely received the offer, set to expire in April, but failed to communicate it to Walters until July. Despite Walters’s requests for a new attorney, Stanley continued to represent Walters. In July, the state extended another plea offer. Stanley communicated that offer to Walters and secured a 30-day extension. The July plea offer lapsed.
Walters filed an ethics complaint. Stanley explained that Walters refused to respond to the July plea offer and had indicated that he would only “plead guilty to a misdemeanor, serve a year in jail, and make restitution." After negotiating a plea with new representation Walters pleaded guilty to reduced charges. The court sentenced Walters to 43-65 years’ incarceration, citing Walters’ criminal history, the seriousness of the offense, and the danger he posed to the community,
After exhausting state remedies, Walters sought federal habeas relief. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the denial of his petition, which alleged ineffective assistance of counsel. The state court appropriately concluded that Walters failed to show a reasonable probability that he would have accepted the March plea offer had Stanley timely communicated it. Walters cannot demonstrate prejudice.