Cases & Deals

Habeas petitioner secures relief on ineffective-assistance claim

Client(s) Jordan, Joseph

Jones Day represented pro bono client Joseph J. Jordan, an inmate in Wisconsin, in his successful habeas appeal to the Seventh Circuit.  The court remanded so that Mr. Jordan can pursue an ineffective-assistance claim.

During closing arguments in Mr. Jordan’s 2003 criminal trial, his court-appointed counsel failed to object when the prosecution repeatedly vouched for the credibility of a key witness. Mr. Jordan argued that this failure to object rose to the level of unconstitutionally ineffective assistance. That claim, however, was rejected by the Wisconsin courts and then by the district court in which Mr. Jordan sought habeas relief.

On appeal from the district court, the Seventh Circuit reversed in Mr. Jordan’s favor. The court ruled that, had Mr. Jordan’s court-appointed attorney objected, there was a reasonable probability that the outcome of the trial would have been different. The court also concluded that the attorney’s failure to object may have been objectively unreasonable, but that the record was unclear as to whether there was any potentially legitimate explanation for the attorney’s conduct. The Seventh Circuit remanded for the district court to hold an evidentiary hearing on this issue.

Jordan v. Hepp, No. 14-3613, -- F.3d --, 2016 WL 4119862 (7th Cir. Aug. 3, 2016)