Baltimore Post Conviction Lawyers With Nearly 100 Years' Combined Experience
Do you have a criminal conviction that you wish to remove from your criminal record? If there are compelling reasons that you did not receive a fair trial due to legal error or deficiency in your attorney's performance, you may have grounds for a new trial or reduced sentence. The Baltimore post-conviction attorneys at Nathans & Ripke LLP have decades of experience successfully preparing and litigating state and federal post-conviction claims.
The attorneys at Nathans & Ripke LLP are recognized for their victories in correcting errors made in federal and state trials or sentencing hearings through post-conviction proceedings. Recent victories have included freeing innocent clients, reduced or shortened sentences, time-served sentences, a reversal of convictions, and eventual pleas to reduced charges.
The following is a list of some of our Maryland state court post-conviction successes. This list does not include other victories in federal habeas court proceedings, positive results based on filing 8-505 (drug treatment-evaluation sentencing reductions), other motions to reduce sentences granted, Three-Judge Panel sentencing reductions or positive parole outcomes. We are proud that the list of successes below includes cases from multiple Maryland jurisdictions:
- Austin, Michael (Baltimore City) – Our Motion to Re-open our Client’s Post-Conviction proceedings was granted and a new trial was ordered after an extensive evidentiary hearing, Mr. Austin was released and the State chose not to retry him. Mr. Austin appeared, with counsel, a few days later on “Good Morning America.” Mr. Austin was subsequently pardoned by Governor Ehrlich, and he was soon thereafter awarded the largest financial grant at that time by the Maryland Board of Public Works based on actual innocence.
- Cassel, Lawrence (Baltimore City) – A new trial was ordered during post-conviction proceedings when we proved that the Grand Jury impermissibly excluded African American jurors.
- Collins, Dana (St. Mary’s County) – A new trial was ordered for Mr. Collins after extensive evidence was presented during a protracted post-conviction hearing concerning Mr. Collin’s mental health before and during the time frame in which he pled guilty to murder. Mr. Collin’s subsequently declined a plea to second-degree murder and lost his new trial represented by different counsel.
- Conyers. Clarence (Baltimore County - moved at one point to Wicomico County) – A new trial was ordered in Mr. Conyer’s death penalty case due to trial perjury, Brady and Giglio violations. The case was later affirmed on appeal in a published decision.
- Henry, Ian (Prince George’s County) – Mr. Henry prevailed in his post-conviction hearing and his five death sentences and convictions were overturned as the result of Brady violations and other misconduct. Prior to his retrial, Mr. Henry pled guilty to only one count of Second-Degree murder and he was sentenced to time served. The other four first degree murder charges were dismissed.
- Howell, Daniel (Prince George’s County) – Mr. Howell received an agreed-upon time-served sentence of his First-Degree murder conviction after ineffective assistance claims were raised during his post-conviction litigation.
- Kanaras, Deno (Harford-Kent County) – Mr. Kanaras’s lengthy murder sentence was reduced by consent (and the Client was released shortly thereafter) after we raised various post-conviction claims.
- Lomax, Walter (Baltimore City) – After filing our Motion to Re-Open Mr. Lomax’s Post-Conviction, the State agreed to reduce Mr. Lomax’s murder life sentence to time served. Mr. Lomax subsequently (with different counsel and our assistance) prevailed on his Writ of Actual Innocence and his conviction was overturned.
- Marshall, Roy (Carroll County) – A new trial was ordered in Mr. Marshall’s business arson-related conviction after a hard-fought post-conviction hearing based on our proof of ineffective assistance of counsel claims and Brady violations. Mr. Marshall subsequently entered a guilty plea and his sentence was lowered to time served.
- Milles, Arthur (Prince George’s County) – Our juvenile lifer Client’s sentence was reduced to time served after we argued that his initial sentence was illegal.
- Perry, Shawnte (Prince George’s County) - Our juvenile lifer Client’s sentence was reduced to time served in response to a joint motion for sentence reduction with the State after we persuaded the State that her original sentence was disproportionate to her codefendant’s sentence and to her role in the offense and that she was rehabilitated and that further incarceration was unnecessary.
- Seward, George (Baltimore County) – Mr. Seward was awarded a new trial and his rape conviction was vacated after his Writ of Actual Innocence Petition was granted. Mr. Seward’s victory was upheld on appeal.
- Sissoko, Moussa (Montgomery County) – After a contentious science-based post-conviction hearing, Mr. Sissoko was awarded a new trial on the ground that his trial counsel had been ineffective by failing to adduce expert medical testimony to rebut the State's expert medical forensic testimony on abusive head trauma. Mr. Sissoko subsequently chose to reject the State’s subsequent plea offer and he was convicted in his retrial.
- Stewart, Andrew (Baltimore City) – Our Writ of Actual Innocence Petition was consented to by the State based on various improper police tactics with juvenile witnesses and other Brady claims. Mr. Stewart subsequently obtained a record monetary award from the Maryland Board of Public Works. Mr. Stewart appeared on 60 for 60 Minutes with his two co-defendants (The “Harlem Park 3”) in June 2020. We are currently suing the Baltimore Police Department and various officers on Mr. Stewart’s behalf.
- Thomas, Melvin (Baltimore City) – A joint defense and state Writ of Actual Innocence Petition was granted, and Mr. Thomas was released after nearly 19 years in prison for an attempted murder he did not commit. The alleged victim recanted his manipulated police identification of Mr. Thomas, an identification which was inconsistent with the description of the crime scene shooter by multiple witnesses.
- Washington, George (Baltimore City) – Our Writ of Actual Innocence Petition was granted based primarily on witness recantation. Mr. Washington was released, and the state chose not to seek a retrial.
- Williams, Tony (Baltimore City) – A new trial was ordered due to trial perjury and Brady and Giglio violations. Mr. William’s post-conviction victory regarding his murder conviction was upheld on appeal in a published decision.
Maryland Post Conviction Relief Motion
Maryland law allows clients to seek post-conviction relief following the end of the direct appeals process. In Maryland, every convicted client has a right to an in-court hearing on their post-conviction claims so long as they are serving a sentence of incarceration or are on parole or probation arising from a conviction and sentence. In some situations, a client's previously denied post-conviction petitions can be reopened and clients may prevail based on subsequent claims of actual innocence. After a trial has resulted in a conviction and sentence, a federal court client has the right to seek timely post-conviction relief by filing a 28 U.S.C. § 2255 petition.
Unlike direct appeals, post-conviction proceedings are not limited to the prior trial record. Our tireless investigative work in such cases is a hallmark of our practice and has resulted in the freedom of numerous clients including four innocent Maryland men who had wrongfully served 27, 39, 32, and 26 years in prison and an individual who remained on death row for more than 7 years.
Ways of Obtaining Sentencing Relief in State and Federal Courts
In addition to filing a post-conviction petition, clients can obtain sentencing relief in Maryland state courts as a result of:
- An appeal to the Circuit Court from a District Court conviction
- A timely filed Motion to Reduce Sentence
- A hearing before a Three-Judge Panel
- Acceptance into and successful completion of various drug/alcohol programs ordered by the court
In Federal Court, a client's sentence can be reduced by:
- A successful appeal challenging the reasonableness of the sentence or the improper application of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines
- Successful admission and completion of various programs offered by the Federal Bureau of Prisons
- Obtaining sentencing relief through federal post-conviction petitions (28 U.S.C. § 2255) and/or Federal or State Coram Nobis petitions
- Providing substantial assistance /cooperating with law enforcement or prosecutors after sentence
Obtaining Relief through Coram Nobis Petitions
There is also a right in Maryland to attack a conviction and sentence long after a client has served a sentence and completed parole or probation. This issue most commonly arises when permanent resident aliens or other undocumented individuals face deportation based on old offenses, or prior convictions need to be removed due to professional licensing, regulatory requirements, or educational or vocational goals. In these situations, Nathans & Ripke LLP attorneys have successfully employed the writ of Coram Nobis to help our clients achieve freedom from the unexpected consequences of prior convictions. We have also had success in filing Coram Nobis petitions in appropriate cases.
Evaluating Grounds for Post Conviction and Coram Nobis Relief
Below is a list of some of the legal issues that have formed the basis for our post-conviction and Coram Nobis victories:
- Discovery of exculpatory – Brady evidence
- Errors in guilty plea proceedings
- Ineffective assistance of counsel (failure to properly investigate mental health defenses)
- Ineffective assistance of counsel (failure to adequately represent the client during Federal Sentencing proceedings)
- Ineffective assistance of counsel (failure to adequately put forth a defense)
- Ineffective assistance of appellate counsel (failure to investigate or raise a viable claim)
- Conflict of interest of the trial attorney
- Evidence of Actual Innocence
Federal Post-Conviction Proceedings
After a trial has resulted in a conviction and sentence, a defendant in federal court has two more opportunities to obtain a just result: direct appeal and federal habeas corpus post-conviction proceedings through 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Our attorneys have many years of experience and successes in correcting errors made in federal trials through post-conviction proceedings. These successes have included reduced or shortened sentences, the reversal of convictions, and eventual pleas to reduced charges.
Our principal federal area of practice is in Maryland, although we also have experience in federal post-conviction proceedings in other states.
Contact our Post Conviction Lawyers in Maryland
The rules and procedures governing post-conviction cases are complex and subject to strict timelines. Consequently, it's extremely important to work with an experienced post-conviction lawyer in Maryland who understands the process and the fine art of advocacy.