State v. Roat, 466 P.3d 439 (Kansas 2020) is an unlikely case to provide an interesting discussion of a legal malpractice issue. Roat, having served his sentence, argued that his sentence for a crime had been computed incorrectly. The court held the appeal was moot. Roat tried to argue that his lawyers committed malpractice but the court rejected that argument as well. The discussion is thoughtful and the court concludes that a lawyer does not have a duty to argue for a change in the law.
Roat provides little in the way of the details of what he might assert as a factual basis for a legal malpractice claim. He leaves it to the appellate courts to flesh out the nature of his claims against his trial counsel. Failure to brief an analytic framework sufficiently for effective appellate review is tantamount to not raising the issue at all. See State v. Boleyn, 297 Kan. 610, 633, 303 P.3d 680 (2013); State v. Easterling, 289 Kan. 470, 487, 213 P.3d 418 (2009). A party should not leave the court “to guess about the specifics of how [a party] would frame his arguments….” State v. Berriozabal, 291 Kan. 568, 594, 243 P.3d 352 (2010).
We are reluctant to try to put flesh onto the skeleton of a hypothetical legal malpractice claim that Roat suggests creates an interest sufficient to defeat mootness. It may be that he would argue that his attorney should have made the arguments that appellate counsel successfully made in State v. Dickey, 301 Kan. 1018, 350 P.3d 1054 (2015). If Roat’s trial attorney had successfully made those arguments, then, the reasoning might be, he would have spent less time incarcerated.