Frequently Asked Questions
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Q. Where are you located?
A. Law Office of Dennis Balske, 621 S.W. Morrison Street, Suite 1025, Portland, OR 97205 (503) 222-9830
Q. Is there a time limit for a post-conviction action?
A. Yes. It must be brought within two years of final judgment in the case. However, because federal habeas corpus has a shorter, one-year time limit, it is of paramount importance to file the post-conviction action well within the one-year federal limit, so that if you are unsuccessful in your state post-conviction, you may still pursue federal relief.
Q. Can I appeal and seek post-conviction relief at the same time?
A. No. You must first complete your appeal before seeking post-conviction relief. In rare instances, it may be advisable to forego your appeal in order to pursue post-conviction relief. Such decisions should only be made after receiving advice from an experienced appellate and post-conviction attorney
Q. Can I skip my appeal and post-conviction action and bring a federal habeas corpus action?
A. No. You must first raise any federal constitutional issues you wish to pursue in state court. Unless and until you give every available state court the first opportunity to rule on your federal issue, the federal court will not allow you to pursue federal relief. This is the doctrine of exhaustion of state remedies. Do not forego any state remedy without first seeking advice from experienced counsel.
Q. What are the most commonly litigated issues in post-conviction?
A. By far, the most common is the adequate (Oregon) and effective (federal) assistance of counsel. To prevail, you must show that your lawyer's performance fell below prevailing professional norms, and that it likely affected the outcome (Oregon), or that, but for the ineffectiveness, there is a reasonable probability of a different result (federal).
Q. Why do I need a good lawyer for post-conviction representation?
A. This is the one and only chance you will have to present additional evidence in your case. If you are unsuccessful, the federal courts will not allow you to present additional evidence. Moreover, the federal court will presume the correctness of all state-court fact findings, and it will defer to the legal rulings of the state courts. The post-conviction trial is the most critical remaining stage of your case.
Q. What should I expect of my post-conviction lawyer?
A. Take a look at the Oregon State Bar website. Click on Performance Standards. Then review the Performance Standards for Post-Conviction Cases. I chaired the Committeee that drafted these Standards. They explain the post-conviction process and lay out what is expected of post-conviction counsel.
Q. How long does a post-conviction action take?
A. It normally takes approximately 8-12 months, after the post-conviction petition is filed, to get to trial. Complex cases take longer, depending on the level of complexity. Occasionally, the court will rule from the bench, but it usually takes a few months to obtain the court's ruling.