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Childs v. Collins

decided: July 13, 1993.


Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. D.C. DOCKET NUMBER CA3-90-1849-R. JUDGE Jerry Buchmeyer

Before Jolly, Davis, and Jones, Circuit Judges.

Author: Jones

EDITH H. JONES, Circuit Judge:

Darrell Windell Childs appeals the district court's denial of his petition for habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the district court's denial of Childs's petition.


On August 18, 1988, Childs was convicted in a Texas court on charges of aggravated robbery and was sentenced to 45 years imprisonment. Childs did not timely file a notice of appeal of that conviction.

Some three months after his conviction, Childs filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the state trial court, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel that resulted in a denial of his right to appeal. Specifically, Childs asserted that he was not properly informed of his right to appeal and that his appointed counsel failed to give notice of appeal and withdrew from the case without notice to Childs or the trial court. Moreover, Childs alleged that his appointed trial counsel, King T. Solomon, had promised to escort Childs to court on August 24, 1988, for the purpose of signing appeal papers if he wished to appeal, but did not keep his alleged promise.

The state trial court requested an affidavit from Childs's trial counsel. After considering this affidavit, the court denied Childs's petition and found: (1) Childs was informed of his right to appeal by the trial court and his trial counsel; (2) Childs failed to timely notify anyone connected with the court of his desire to perfect an appeal; and (3) Childs's failure to make known his desire to appeal his conviction resulted in a waiver of his right to appeal.

After the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals summarily denied his request for habeas relief, Childs filed the instant habeas suit in the Northern District of Texas pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The case was referred to Magistrate Judge William Sanderson, who recommended that the petition be denied and dismissed. The district court adopted the magistrate Judge's recommendation and denied relief. This appeal followed.


Childs's ineffective assistance of counsel claims are governed by Penson v. Ohio, 488 U.S. 75, 88, 109 S. Ct. 346, 354, 102 L. Ed. 2d 300 (1988), in which the Supreme Court held that a petitioner need not prove prejudice under Strickland when the actions complained of resulted in the actual or constructive denial of the assistance of counsel altogether. Thus, Childs need only satisfy Strickland 's requirement of showing that counsel's performance was so seriously deficient that he was not functioning as counsel. See United States v. Gipson, 985 F.2d 212, 215 (5th Cir.1993) ("If a petitioner can prove that the ineffective assistance of counsel denied him the right to appeal, then he need not further establish--as a prerequisite to habeas relief--that he had some chance of success on appeal."); Childress v. Lynaugh, 842 F.2d 768, 772 (5th Cir.1988) ("Prejudice resulting from the denial of a defendant's right to appeal is presumed because a criminal conviction can be attacked on numerous grounds and thus, given the likelihood of prejudice, a case-by-case inquiry is not worth the costs.").

It should also be noted that in a federal habeas proceeding, factual findings of a state court must be presumed correct unless they are not fairly supported in the record. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(8). Maggio v. Fulford, 462 U.S. 111, 117, 103 S. Ct. 2261, 2264, 76 L. Ed. 2d 794 (1983).

Childs asserted in the district court that he had not been informed of his right to appeal, but he now acknowledges that the state court's factual finding with support in Solomon's affidavit precludes our consideration of that issue. Instead, Childs argues that his appointed trial counsel's failure to notice and perfect an appeal of his aggravated robbery conviction amounted to ineffective assistance of counsel.

Criminal defense counsel need not be omniscient, and they are not always omnipotent with respect to the protection of a client's rights. The duty to perfect an appeal on behalf of a convicted client does not arise on conviction, but when the client makes known to counsel his desire to appeal the conviction.*fn1 What the Constitution does require is that the defendant be fully informed of his right to appeal. This would require that the client be advised not only of his right to appeal, but also of the procedure and time limits involved and of his right to appointed counsel on appeal. See Lumpkin v. Smith, 439 F.2d 1084, 1085 (5th Cir.1971). The state court found ...

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