Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fourth Circuit reverses District Court's habeas grant

Underwood v. Harkleroad, No. 10-6077 (4th Cir. Jan 12, 2011)

The District Court granted a petition for writ of habeas corpus because defense counsel's promise during opening statement to present evidence and then failing to do so amounted to constitutionally deficient performance which prejudiced the defendant.

The Fourth Circuit reversed because the attorney's failure to offer the promised evidence—including a third-party's confession—was not deficient or prejudicial.

(Reversing Underwood v. Harkleroad, No. 5:04-cv-193, 2009 WL 5064752 (W.D.N.C. Dec. 23, 2009).)

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