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Bellamy v. Cogdell

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
974 F.2d 302 (1992)


Bellamy (defendant) was charged with murder. More than a year before the start of Bellamy’s trial, his mother contacted a retired attorney who had previously represented Bellamy. A few months prior to trial, the attorney was subjected to disciplinary proceedings. During the disciplinary proceedings, a doctor submitted a letter to the disciplinary committee informing that the attorney was suffering from physical ailments and emotional stress that rendered him incompetent to participate in the proceedings. The disciplinary committee petitioned for the attorney’s immediate suspension. The attorney responded to the petition by stating that suspension was unnecessary because Bellamy’s case was the only case he was handling at the time. The attorney represented that he would hire a second attorney to assist him in Bellamy’s representation. The attorney sent an ex parte letter to the trial judge informing that his condition had improved and that he would be assisted by the second attorney during Bellamy’s trial. The second attorney was unable to provide assistance during Bellamy’s trial. At trial, Bellamy was found guilty and convicted. Two months after Bellamy’s conviction, his attorney was suspended from practice. Bellamy moved to vacate his conviction on grounds of ineffective representation. The state courts upheld Bellamy’s conviction and he appealed to the federal courts. The federal district court deferred to the state court’s factual finding that Bellamy’s attorney was competent at the time of trial and upheld his conviction. Bellamy appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Altimari, J.)

Dissent (Feinberg, J.)

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