Rainwater Law Group

Effective Criminal Defense

Pizzuto v. Ramirez No. 13-35443 [April 22, 2015]

Pizzuto v. Ramirez

Pizzuto filed a Rule 60 motion challenging the denial of his habeas petition, arguing that because of the subsequent decision in Martinez v. Ryan he should be allowed to reopen his petition. The Court held he could raise his claims under Rule 60(b) [arguments based on improper finding of procedural default or fraud can be raised under the Rule], but held that since two of his claims did not involve ineffective assistance of counsel Martinez does not apply. ["We .. decline to extend Martinez to cover claims other than ineffective assistance of trial or appellate counsel"] It considered the remaining claim and assumed without deciding that an "if a claim satisfied Martinez's requirements, it would constitute an extraordinary circumstances sufficient to justify relief under Rule 60(b)(6)." Citing to Jones v. Ryan as a reason to doubt this assumption. The court also found that the conflict of interest claims are eligible for consideration under Martinez, but the claim did not establish cause to excuse the procedural default under the Martinez standard. Finally, the Court denied a claim that the Government perpetrated a fraud on the district court because of a lack of evidence that there was "any knowledge on the part of the lawyers representing the state before the federal courts of the various alleged trial improprieties." "It takes more than 'say so' to transform routine advocacy by the state's lawyers of its position into a fraud on the court."

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