I was told that it helps but I read some where that it can hurt it if Im not familiar with all the current case law. (Federal Case)
In general, it is a good idea to show that the law supports your position. Courts are a bit more generous when reading a pro se (non-lawyer's) writing, but they still expect you to be truthful and accurate. Do not try to stretch the case to say what you WANT it to say - the judge will see through that.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to form a client/lawyer relationship. I currently work for North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services, Inc., a non-profit law firm which exists to protect the rights of prisoners in the custody of the state of North Carolina. I cannot accept clients outside of my work. If a loved one is in prison in North Carolina, advise the inmate that they may write to North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services, Inc. NCPLS will review their case at no cost and will litigate at no cost to the inmate if the case meets NCPLS' standards. NCPLS can also provide some assistance to inmates seeking to represent themselves.
On a federal claim of ineffective assistance of counsel you would not cite state law unless you needed to show why the state court's decision is contrary to federal law. Federal courts follow federal cases--typically US Supreme Court precedent. Next would be federal court of appeal decisions and district court decisions from the same circuit.
Assuming you are in federal court on a habeas petition from a state court conviction, you will need to show that the state court did not apply federal case law properly when evaluating your claim of IAC or that the state was unreasonable in its determination of the facts. That's why state law would only be relevant to show the state courts have misunderstood federal law.
If you're in federal court on a case that started in federal court, then state court cases would have no relevance.
Federal courts can be very challenging even for experienced state court lawyers. You would be wise to get a lawyer to help if at all possible.
As already stated, it is generally preferrable to cite law to support your claim. It is challenging to stay current particularly on ineffective assistance claims, so it will be demanding to do this well. You need to pay attention to the difference between state law and federal law and cite the appropriate authorities for your case.
This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is advisable to consult with an attorney with full disclosure of relevant facts for a comprehensive leagl opinion.
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