(CN) – The Supreme Court said Monday it would consider whether a man’s constitutional rights were violated because court-appointed counsel allegedly failed to help him appeal his convictions for having sex with a minor.
Luis Mariano Martinez claims his postconviction relief attempts as an indigent person were prejudiced by ineffective counsel.
The 9th Circuit affirmed rejection of that petition in September 2010. Martinez is serving two consecutive terms of 35 to life in Arizona for two counts of sexual conduct with a person under the age of 15.
He claimed that the court-appointed appellate counsel failed to consult with him or inform him about what he needed to do to seek postconviction relief.
“The Supreme Court has never recognized a federal constitutional right to the assistance of counsel in collateral review proceedings,” Judge John Wallace wrote for the court’s three-judge panel.
Martinez nevertheless claimed he was entitled to the effective assistance of counsel in connection with his first state petition for post-conviction relief.
“Martinez recognizes the general rule that ‘there is no right to counsel in state collateral proceedings,’ but asserts that there might be an exception where ‘state collateral review is the first place a prisoner can present a challenge to his conviction,'” according to the ruling.
Finding otherwise, Wallace pointed to the Supreme Court’s conclusion that “the Constitution did not require the appointment of counsel to an indigent defendant seeking second-tier review or other discretionary review.”
“The Court stressed that the right to the assistance of counsel on appeal extended only to a first appeal,” Wallace wrote.
“We conclude that there is no federal constitutional right to the assistance of counsel in connection with state collateral relief proceedings, even where those proceedings constitute the first tier of review for an ineffective assistance of counsel claim,” he added.