Cordell Gines filed a pro se complaint against his defense attorneys, Ryan R. Wilson, Lawrence Bapst, and Martin J. Ryan, alleging legal malpractice and a breach of fiduciary duty. Specifically, Gines alleged that the defendants had caused him to serve a sentence for various criminal acts of which he had been convicted that was at least five years longer than it should have been. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss, which the court granted. It found that Gines had failed to allege facts sufficient to state a claim upon which relief could be granted because he did not plead facts presenting arguments defendants failed to make that would have resulted in a reversal or modification of his conviction or sentence. The court also found that collateral estoppel barred Gines’ claim for malpractice. Gines appealed.
The appellate court affirmed the dismissal, stating that “a legal malpractice cause of action does not accrue until the plaintiff’s conviction is overturned.” Id. at ¶ 30. It explained that because another court had already established the correctness of Gines’ sentence, Gines was collaterally estopped form challenging the validity of the same sentence in the current action. Thus he could not overturn it so as to sue the defendants for malpractice.
(This is for informational purposes and is not legal advice.)