Tag Archives: effective assistance

Criminal Practice – Brady — Bullet Lead Analysis – Public Domain Critiques — Effective Assistance (access required)

U.S. v. Higgs A North Carolina death-row defendant convicted of kidnapping and murdering three women in the Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge cannot win post-conviction relief on a claim that the government failed to disclose before trial two FBI studies that undermined the government’s use of Comparative Bullet Lead Analysis that linked bullets used in the women’s murder and in other shootings to bullets found in defendant’s apartment...

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Criminal Practice – PCR – Competency – Constitutional – Due Process – Effective Assistance (access required)

Lee v. State After petitioner pleaded guilty to several charges in June 2005, a December 2005 evaluation showed that he was incompetent to stand trial, and petitioner sought post-conviction review (PCR) of his guilty pleas. A psychiatrist testified that petitioner’s mental status dated back to when he was in school and he had a documented history of mental retardation; this was sufficient to show a reasonable probability that petitioner was incompetent at the time of the plea. However, petitioner also had to demonstrate plea counsel’s performance was deficient. Plea counsel could not be deficient if she had no indication of petitioner’s mental status.

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Criminal Practice – Post-Conviction Review – Evidence – Defendant’s Confession – Attorneys – Effective Assistance (access required)

Terry v. State Even though (1) the state requested a pre-trial hearing on the voluntariness of petitioner’s confession and argued that the confession was voluntary; (2) in an attempt to minimize the confession’s effect on the jury, defense counsel alluded to the confession in his opening statement during the guilt phase; and (3) the state argued successfully during the guilt phase to exclude the confession, there was no prosecutorial misconduct.

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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 – PCR – Effective Assistance – Co-Defendant – Failure to Interview or Call – Strategy (access required)

Edwards v. State Although petitioner's trial counsel did not interview petitioner's co-defendant, counsel was present at the co-defendant's guilty plea proceeding. Even though the co-defendant consistently denied petitioner's involvement in the murder, his version of the rest of the events changed several times during his statement to the court, and counsel made a strategic decision not to call the co-defendant as a witness at petitioner's trial.

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