Another Texas case to illustrate the judgment rule in legal malpractice.
"Doing the best you can with what you have is a constant problem in unsettled areas of the law, particularly unsettled areas of statutory construction. Justice Keasler’s concurring opinion in this Court of Criminal Appeals case makes the point:
In Ex parte Chandler, we explained that “a reasonably prudent attorney in Texas is not constitutionally deficient if he relies upon pertinent judicial opinions in assessing the validity of a legal proposition.” Ex parte Chandler, 182 S.W.3d at 358. Moreover, because “‘what an attorney thinks the law is today may not be what a court decides tomorrow[,]’ . . . ‘the rule that an attorney is not liable for an error in judgment on an unsettled proposition of law is universally recognized.’“ Id. (quoting 3 Ronald E. Mallen & Jeffrey M. Smith, Legal Malpractice § 18.1, at 2 (5th ed. 2000)). “[C]ounsel’s performance will be measured against the state of the law in effect during the time of trial and we will not find counsel ineffective where the claimed error is based upon unsettled law.” Ex parte Welch, 981 S.W.2d 183, 184 (Tex. Crim. App. 1998) (citing Vaughn v. State, 931 S.W.2d 564, 567 (Tex. Crim. App. 1996)). We also stated that “legal advice which only later proves to be incorrect does not normally fall below the objective standard of reasonableness under Strickland.” Ex parte Chandler, 182 S.W.3d at 359.
Roemer’s counsel’s legal advice was correct at the time he offered it. Counsel relied on the only available opinion dealing with the issue. “[T]he state of the law in effect during the time of trial,” Ex parte Welch, 981 S.W.2d at 184, consisted of a single opinion, which clearly resolved the issue against his client. Counsel thoroughly explained the legal issue and the effect of the court of appeals’ opinion to his client. But the final decision to accept the plea agreement was Roemer’s alone. It could not, therefore, be counsel’s judgment error. Roemer’s counsel’s actions fall squarely within our explanation of effective assistance of counsel in Ex parte Chandler.
Ex parte Roemer, 2007 Tex. Crim. App. Lexis 229 (Tex. Crim. App. 2007) (Keasler, J., concurring, joined by Hervey, J.). "