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Tag Archives: Death Penalty

Criminal Practice – Habeas Corpus – Death Penalty — Murders (access required)

U.S. v. FulksA South Carolina defendant sentenced to death for his role in carjacking, kidnapping and the murder of two women in separate incidents during a crime spree after a Kentucky jail break cannot overturn his death sentence with claims of ineffective assistance of counsel; the 4th Circuit says none of the alleged errors by counsel would have made a difference in the outcome of this case.

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Criminal Practice – New Trial – Death Penalty – Mentally Retarded Defendant (access required)

Elmore v. Ozmint A mentally retarded African-American handyman who was 23 years old when he was accused of the 1982 murder of a 75-year-old wealthy white woman for whom he did odd jobs is entitled to a new trial, as his trial lawyers’ “blind acceptance of the State’s forensic evidence” demonstrated constitutionally ineffective assistance of counsel, says the 4th Circuit in a 2-1 split.

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Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Habeas Corpus – Effective Assistance – Death Penalty (access required)

DeCastro v. Branker The 4th Circuit upholds denial of habeas relief for a North Carolina defendant sentenced to death for his role in the fatal stabbing of a husband and wife who owned a mobile home park where a co-defendant had lived; none of the multiple allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel by the lawyer who represented defendant at trial, from his investigation of the case to his decisions about witnesses presented at trial and sentencing, support defendant's petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

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Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Right to Counsel – Conflict of Interest – Death Penalty (access required)

State v. Justus There was conflicting evidence as to whether defendant's second-chair counsel had represented a potential state's witness by preparing his separation agreement or whether she was still representing the witness in his divorce action. The trial court did not abuse its discretion by disqualifying and replacing counsel two and a half years before defendant pleaded guilty.

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