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WILLIAMS v. CALLAGHAN

September 10, 1996

JAMES D. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
ATTORNEY MARTIN CALLAGHAN, ESQ., Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SPORKIN

 Plaintiff, who is proceeding pro se, brings this action against his former criminal defense trial attorney, alleging that certain of defendant's trial tactics caused plaintiff's conviction for drug distribution. Plaintiff asserts two causes of action: (1) legal malpractice; and (2) intentional infliction of emotional distress. Plaintiff's allegations are supported solely by plaintiff's own affidavit. Defendant moves for summary judgment.

 BACKGROUND

 On September 14, 1990, plaintiff, represented by defendant at trial, was convicted of distribution of a controlled substance in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. On November 8, 1990, plaintiff was sentenced to ten to thirty years' incarceration. On November 20, 1991, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals found the evidence sufficient to sustain the conviction. James D. Williams v. United States, 444 U.S. 888, 100 S. Ct. 187, 62 L. Ed. 2d 122 (1991).

 Plaintiff then sought relief from his sentence in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, pursuant to D.C. Code ┬ž 23-110. Among other claims, plaintiff alleged ineffective assistance of trial counsel. On November 11, 1992 Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly *fn1" denied plaintiff's collateral attack. The Court reasoned that plaintiff was "barred from raising his claims of ineffective assistance of counsel . . . because the bases for his claims are issues of which he knew or should have known at the time of his direct appeal." United States of America v. James D. Williams, Docket No. F-2202-90 B (Nov. 11, 1992) (citations omitted).

 On November 22, 1993, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals affirmed the post-trial decision. The appellate court stated "absent a showing of cause and prejudice, which Williams has not made, this ruling was clearly correct." James D. Williams v. United States, Docket No. 92-CO-1458 (Nov. 22, 1993).

 Plaintiff next filed a Petition for a Writ of Error Coram Nobis2 which likewise contained claims of ineffectiveness of counsel. Judge Kollar-Kotelly denied the Petition on July 27, 1995, because plaintiff's claims failed to meet any of the five requirements of a Petition for a Writ of Error Coram Nobis. *fn3" Most importantly, plaintiff failed to show any facts of which the trial court was unaware that would have prevented the sentence or judgment.

 Plaintiff then brought this action against defendant for legal malpractice and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Plaintiff alleges acts of negligent and intentional professional misconduct identical to those raised in the prior collateral attacks based on ineffective assistance of counsel. Specifically, plaintiff alleges the following acts of misconduct:

 
(1) failure to adequately investigate identification evidence with respect to plaintiff's street name (i.e. that it is "Flat" and not "Chink"); *fn4"
 
(2) failure to adequately interview potential witnesses;
 
(3) failure to make any pre-trial motions;
 
(4) failure to move for a mistrial;
 
(6) failure to zealously advocate plaintiff's cause.

 Defendant moves for summary judgment on grounds that plaintiff has failed to establish a prima facie case for either legal malpractice or ...


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