Court errors win O'Neill appeal hearing

A series of court errors has won Christopher Sound O'Neill a hearing on claims his lawyer refused to appeal his case.

O'Neill was convicted in May 1995 of robbery and sentenced to life as a habitual criminal.

Because of confused rulings at the district court level, his petition for a hearing was finally filed six years after the conviction then thrown out because it was so late.

But O'Neill charged that his lawyer refused to file an appeal on his behalf. According to the high court, the district court was in error for not holding an evidentiary hearing on that claim.

In addition, O'Neill argued his appeal wasn't filed too late because he had never been served by the district court with a notice that an order had been entered dismissing his petition.

That, according to the Supreme Court, means the clock on his 30-day period to file an appeal never started. The high court remanded the case to district court to conduct an evidentiary hearing into whether O'Neill's trial lawyer deprived him of the right to appeal. It instructed the district court to allow the appeal if that's true and advised O'Neill that he can appeal to the Supreme Court if the district court rejects his argument.


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