Appellate Practice

Lionel Tate Trial Delayed for Appeals Ruling

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The latest trial for the youngest American ever sentenced to life in a murder case has been delayed, awaiting a Florida appellate court ruling on claimed ineffective assistance of counsel.

Lionel Tate, 20, whose original life sentence in the murder case was overturned because of his age (he was 12 at the time he killed a 6-year-old girl, he said by accident, and 14 when sentenced to life), is currently serving a 30-year term imposed after a plea deal. This 30-year sentence was for violating the probationary term he eventually received in the murder case by committing an armed robbery of a pizza delivery driver in 2005.

The problem is, Tate did not plead guilty at the same time to the robbery itself, for which he was scheduled to go to trial today. And, if he is convicted in the robbery case, he could again be sentenced to life. However, the robbery trial has been postponed until Sept. 4 by a Broward County judge, the Miami Herald reports, to await a state appeals court ruling on Tate’s claim that his counsel was ineffective in the earlier probation violation plea deal in the pizza case.

For details on Tate’s ineffective assistance complaint, see this earlier post.

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