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Tag Archives: habeas corpus

Criminal Practice – Habeas Corpus – Sentencing – Prior Conviction – 2010 Ruling – Not Retroactive (access required)

U.S. v. Powell The 4th Circuit denies post-conviction relief for a defendant’s 240-month sentence for conspiracy to distribute cocaine, enhanced due to defendant’s prior North Carolina drug conviction; the rule defendant advances from a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court case is not retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review, and defendant’s § 2255 motion is untimely.

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

U.S. v. Fulks A 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 – Habeas Corpus – Death-Row Defendant – Mental Retardation – Ineffective Assistance Claim (access required)

Winston v. Pearson The 4th Circuit affirms a grant of habeas relief to a defendant convicted of the capital murder of a couple in their home, after the district court’s de novo review of defendant’s claim that his trial attorneys were ineffective for failure to raise a claim under Atkins v. Virginia that defendant’s mental retardation barred imposition of the death penalty.

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Criminal Practice – Habeas Corpus – Constitutional – Due Process – References to Religion – Church-Service Robbery (access required)

Deyton v. Keller Although the trial judge at defendants’ trial for armed robbery of Sunday worship services at a North Carolina church made references to religion, those references did not violate defendants’ right to due process, as defendants’ choice to target a church during weekly services “imbued their crime with an undeniably religious character”; the 4th Circuit denies defendants’ claim for habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

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Criminal Practice – Prisons & Jails — Habeas Corpus – ‘Good Time’ Credits — Custody Grade (access required)

Waddell v. Dep’t of Correction A North Carolina prisoner whose 1975 death sentence was commuted to life in prison loses his challenge to the state’s application of “good time” credits to allegedly extend his sentence beyond his effective release date; the 4th Circuit upholds the district court decision that the prisoner’s habeas petition...

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Criminal Practice – Habeas Corpus – Writ Reversed – N.C. Death-Row Defendant – Constitutional – Ineffective Assistance Claim — Brady Evidence – Mental Retardation (access required)

Richardson v. Branker The 4th Circuit reverses a district court’s issuance of a habeas writ to a North Carolina death-row defendant, as the proper review by the federal court indicates the conviction cannot be overturned for the claimed errors of ineffective assistance of counsel, withholding of exculpatory evidence or proof of petitioner’s mental retardation.

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Criminal Practice – Habeas Corpus – Court Martial – No Prior Collateral Review – Rape & Murder Retrial (access required)

Hennis v. Hemlick A former soldier who was acquitted of rape and murder as an enlisted man in 1989 on retrial and now faces the same charges again after DNA testing in 2006 implicated him for the same crime, cannot avoid court-martial with a federal habeas petition; the 4th Circuit upholds “Councilman” abstention, as defendant must exhaust all available remedies within the military justice system before seeking collateral review in federal court.

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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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