Griffin v. State
In Griffin v. State, 18 P.3d 71, 77 (Alaska App. 2001) the Court reviewed the constitutional sufficiency of Criminal Rule 35.1(e)(2)(C), which allows an attorney appointed to represent an indigent petitioner for post-conviction relief to file a certificate stating that the attorney has determined that there are no colorable claims for relief that can be raised on behalf of the petitioner.
When an attorney files a certificate under this rule, the court must independently review the record to assess whether the applicant has a colorable claim to relief.
In Griffin, the Court concluded that, in order to adequately protect an indigent petitioner's right to effective assistance of counsel, an attorney who files a certificate of "no arguable merit" must also "provide the court with a full explanation of all the claims the attorney has considered and why the attorney has concluded that these claims are frivolous."
Without such an explanation, the reviewing court is not able to "meaningfully assess and independently evaluate the attorney's assertion that the petitioner has no arguable claim to raise."
The Court augmented the literal wording of Alaska Criminal Rule 35.1(f)(2) to ensure an indigent defendant's right to effective assistance of counsel.
The Court held that when an attorney is appointed to represent an indigent petitioner for post-conviction relief, and when the attorney concludes that the petitioner has no colorable claim for relief, the attorney is obliged to "provide the court with a full explanation of all the claims the attorney has considered and why the attorney has concluded that these claims are frivolous".
This explanation is required so that the court can "fulfill its duty to make sure that indigent litigants do in fact receive zealous investigation and presentation of any colorable claims for post-conviction relief".