Defense Lawyer is So Bad that Judge Orders New Trial Even Though No Chance to Win With Any Lawyer
This week’s case involves Alan Wright, who was arrested for a robbery that occurred in a laundromat in Manhattan. He was convicted. The evidence was overwhelming:
The entire robbery was shown in high quality video from several different angles. Alan is seen lingering outside the laundromat, then entering the laundromat with his hand in his pocket simulating a pistol. He can be seen terrorizing an employee and a customer. He hits the employee and forces both to the ground and then forces them into a storage area. He is seen on the videotape rummaging through the cash register and leaving with the employee's metrocard. And his face is clearly visible on the video. The best he could hope for was that the jury would find that he did not actually have a real gun and convict him only of Robbery in the Second Degree.
And that is exactly what Alan was convicted of. Alan filed a motion for a new trial because of ineffective assistance of counsel. The motion was granted. Here is why:
The judge stated about the trial: “I don't think anyone had seen anything quite like this.” The judge continued, “…although the evidence against defendant was strong, there were arguments that could have been made with respect to witness credibility…But nothing was brought out. There was no effort to call into question any of the witnesses' testimony either on cross-examination or summation.” If you click on the decision you can read the excerpts from the transcripts of the trial where the judge points out the attorney’s performance. The judge comments that, “An observer arriving in the middle of the trial would have been entirely unable to tell if trial counsel was a prosecutor or defense lawyer.”
Vacating the verdict, the judge commented that that “counsel's representation was [not] ‘meaningful.’ It was, effectively, no representation at all.” Alan Wright gets a new trial.
[NOTE: If the prosecution proves in the new trial that Alan had a gun, he could be convicted of a more serious crime than Robbery 2.]
Here is the case: http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2018/2018_28288.htm