Miller v. Smith

In 2004 Miller was charged with First Degree Sexual Assault of a Child. Miller entered a plea of no contest and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. In 2006, Miller filed notice of intent to pursue post-conviction relief, alleging that he failed to understand his original plea. The court appointed Grau to represent Miller. Grau filed a post-conviction motion. Miller, however, withdrew the motion during an April 2007 hearing. In May, Grau informed Miller that Grau felt there was no legal basis for pursuing post-conviction relief. Miller did not hear back from Grau for months and wrote to the State Public Defender’s Office, which wrote back that the Office “will not appoint successor counsel when a defendant disagrees with the legal conclusions of appointed counsel or wants a second opinion as to the merits of an appeal” and informed Miller that he could proceed pro se, hire a different attorney at his own expense, or direct Grau to file a no-merit report. Miller directed Grau to file a no-merit report; Grau failed to do so. In January, 2008, Miller filed a pro se petition for habeas corpus in a Wisconsin court, arguing ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. The court granted Miller’s petition and advised Miller to seek assistance from the State Public Defender. Miller never did so. Miller petitioned the Wisconsin Supreme Court. After additional proceedings and disputes, Miller proceeded pro se and unsuccessfully sought federal habeas relief. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The Wisconsin court’s denial of Miller’s request for new appellate counsel was not clearly contrary to or an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law and his challenge to the validity of his plea was procedurally defaulted. View "Miller v. Smith" on Justia Law