Denied August 22, 2019.
County District Court No. 93CR1584 Honorable F. Stephen
J. Weiser, Attorney General, Matthew S. Holman, First
Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for
M. Lerg, Alternate Defense Counsel, Montrose, Colorado, for
Defendant, Chester L. Huggins, appeals the denial of his
motions for postconviction relief under Crim. P. 35(c). He
contends that the delay in resolution of his motions violated
his "due process right to a speedy and meaningful
postconviction review." Huggins further contends that
the postconviction court erred in denying his ineffective
assistance of counsel claim because the attorney who
represented him both at trial and in his direct appeal
labored under a conflict of interest.
We affirm because the application of Cuyler v.
Sullivan, 446 U.S. 335, 100 S.Ct. 1708, 64 L.Ed.2d 333
(1980), to ineffective assistance of counsel cases premised
on a purported conflict of interest involving the
lawyer's self-interest would undermine the uniformity and
simplicity of Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S.
668, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984).
We address only the relevant portion of the lengthy history
of this case.
Huggins was convicted of first degree murder, conspiracy to
commit first degree murder, and being an accessory to a
crime. Forrest Lewis represented Huggins both at his trial
and in the direct appeal. Before trial, Huggins filed a pro
se motion for appointment of new counsel on various grounds,
including Lewis's alleged failure to assist Huggins in
preparing for trial, lack of legal knowledge, failure to
communicate, and bias. The trial court denied the motion. In
addition, Lewis filed two separate motions for leave to
withdraw on the grounds that Huggins believed that he and
Lewis could no longer work together after they had discussed
a possible plea agreement. The trial court also denied
After the trial, the court granted Lewis's motion for
appointment as Huggins's appellate counsel. A division of
this court affirmed the judgment of conviction. People v.
Huggins, (Colo.App. No. 94CA1159, May 23, 1996) (not
published pursuant to C.A.R. 35(f)).
In February 1998, Huggins filed a pro se motion to vacate his
judgment of conviction under Crim. P. 35(c) (First Motion).
In the First Motion, he alleged that Lewis had been
ineffective for several reasons, including because Lewis had
"failed to raise conflict of interest issues between
himself and his client at trial" and had not interviewed
three potential witnesses.
Later that year, Huggins filed a second motion to vacate his
judgment of conviction, also under Crim. P. 35(c) (Second
Motion). In the Second Motion, Huggins again argued that
Lewis had been ineffective. Concurrently, he filed a motion
for the appointment of counsel to assist with his
postconviction motions. The court appointed Steven Katzman to
represent Huggins in connection with the Second Motion.
The First and Second Motions remained pending on the
postconviction court's docket for the next eleven years.
During that time, Huggins filed a pro se motion for the
appointment of new counsel (New Counsel Motion), in which he
expressed his displeasure with Katzman's performance. The
court took no action on the New Counsel Motion, however. More
than two years later, Katzman moved to withdraw on the basis
of irreconcilable differences with Huggins. The court granted
Katzman leave to withdraw.
In February 2010, Huggins filed a third pro se motion for
postconviction relief, again under Crim. P. 35(c) (Third
Motion), which also included an ineffective assistance of
counsel claim. The postconviction court denied the Third
Motion in an order entered in July 2010. That order made no
reference to the First or Second Motions, however.
In March 2013, Huggins filed a "Request for a Status
Report," in which he sought information regarding the
status of the First and Second Motions (Status Request). The
postconviction court responded that it would not take action
on the Status Request because Huggins had not served it on
More than two years later, Huggins sent a letter to the Chief
Justice of the
Colorado Supreme Court (Letter), in which he alleged a
"gross violation of [his] due process rights by the
delay" in adjudication of his First and Second Motions.
The postconviction court appointed Evan Zuckerman as new
counsel for Huggins in March 2015. Zuckerman filed a status
report in which she requested additional time to investigate
the grounds for Huggins's postconviction motions and a
supplement (Supplement) to the Third Motion. The Supplement
restated Huggins's ineffective assistance of counsel
claim and argued that Lewis had been "ineffective in
advising and raising as a possible appellate issue the trial
court's denial of the two motions to withdraw resulting
in abandonment of a possible appellate claim for
relief." Additionally, Huggins argued in the Supplement
that he had been deprived of his statutory right to
postconviction review because the postconviction court could
not "properly and meaningfully review a complete record
of proceedings." The record reflects that Lewis had not
ordered transcripts of certain of the proceedings in the
Following an evidentiary hearing at which Lewis, Huggins, and
other witnesses testified, the postconviction court denied
all three of Huggins's postconviction motions
(collectively, the Crim. P. 35(c) Motions). (The court
inexplicably denied the Third Motion twice.)
Huggins appeals the denial of the Crim. P. 35(c) Motions.
Huggins's Due Process Claims
Huggins contends that his due process right to a "speedy
and meaningful postconviction review" was violated
because of the delay in adjudication of the Crim. P. 35(c)
Motions. The parties dispute whether Huggins preserved this
due process argument.
We conclude that Huggins did not preserve the argument and,