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Book Review: The Habeas Citebook: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel (2nd Edition)

The Habeas Citebook: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel (2nd Edition), by Brandon Sample and Alissa Hull (PLN Publishing, 2016). 275 pages, $49.95 (softcover)

Book review by Christopher Zoukis

The much-anticipated second edition of The Habeas Citebook: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel, by Brandon Sample and Alissa Hull, is the fifth book to be published by PLN Publishing. As is the case with the previous four titles, The Habeas Citebook is an excellent, professional and informative publication.

Former federal prisoner Brandon Sample, who attended law school after his release and recently passed the bar, and Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York staff attorney Alissa Hull, have put an enormous amount of research into the second edition of this must-have resource. Every new case relating to ineffective assistance of counsel claims published since the first version of The Habeas Citebook is included in this updated edition.

As with the first edition of this book, all case citations include a short statement of the court’s ruling. Anyone who has ever engaged in legal research will greatly appreciate these short statements; for those with limited research experience, these summaries prevent getting lost within lengthy judicial opinions. For the more advanced researcher, they provide a mechanism for finding the right case very quickly.

But what sets The Habeas Citebook apart from so many other legal reference books is its thoughtful organization. The first 40 chapters offer case citations related to ineffective assistance of counsel claims, organized into topical areas. All of the many ways in which a litigant might present an ineffective assistance of counsel claim are detailed. Finding the leading case for any particular claim is as simple as navigating to the easily-located proper chapter, where cases are listed by federal circuit. Is it that simple? Yes.

The Habeas Citebook is not just limited to a thorough collection of relevant case law, however. The last 12 chapters of the book provide virtually everything a prisoner or attorney needs to know to prepare and file a proper habeas corpus petition. The importance of these chapters cannot be overstated, given the dire consequences that flow from improperly prepared petitions. Congress has made it very difficult to prevail in habeas cases, which are often the only means available to prisoners to challenge their convictions and sentences. Therefore, habeas petitions must be prepared properly and The Habeas Citebook is an indispensable tool for those bringing such claims.

In summary, this book includes lists of the cases needed to support a habeas petition for ineffective assistance of counsel. It also provides a detailed and easily understandable guide to the intricacies of habeas litigation. And if that wasn’t enough, the appendices include several sample documents from a successful habeas petition filed by an attorney, which prisoners can use as models for their own pleadings.

When it comes to habeas corpus litigation, whether by prisoners or attorneys, The Habeas Citebook: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel (2nd Edition) is a must-have resource. It is available in PLN’s bookstore.


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