U.S. Fourth Circuit - The FindLaw 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Cocaine Related Conviction Reversed, Plus Enhanced Sentence for Alford Plea Vacated

US v. Luck, 09-6641, concerned a challenge to the district court's denial of defendant's motion to set aside his conviction on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel in a prosecution of defendant for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute fifty grams or more of cocaine.  In reversing denial and vacating and remanding the conviction, the court held that the trial counsel was ineffective in failing to request an informant instruction and this ineffectiveness prejudiced the outcome of defendant's trial.

US v. Alston, 09-4375, concerned a challenge to the district court's imposition of an enhanced sentence based on a prior conviction in a prosecution of a defendant for being a felon in possession of a firearm.  In vacating the sentence and remanding for resentencing, the court held that the defendant's Alford plea to a second-degree assault did not necessarily rest on facts establishing his participation in a type of assault that qualifies as a violent felony.

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