Published on: Thursday, April 15, 2021

At the sentencing hearing of a client convicted of two felony murder counts, attorney thinking client's case was a "hopeless cause" informs the judge, “I’m going to defer to Mr. Lewis if he has any comments. I don’t have anything to add.” He also didn’t investigate for any mitigating evidence, which would have revealed Lewis had attempted suicide at the jail, was abused as a child and was bipolar. Trial court sentenced client to maximum aggregate sentence of 130 years in prison. District court: no prejudice. Seventh Circuit: Lots of prejudice as lawyer was "clearly deficient" and client "received literally no assistance from his lawyer during the sentencing stage." New sentencing hearing ordered. Dissent: Supreme Court has never held that silence at sentencing by defense counsel triggers the presumption of prejudice.

The case is Lewis v. Zatecky, 20-1642 (7th Cir. Apr. 13, 2021).