July 31st, 2020
Thomas v. Davis
Opinion Date: July 30, 2020
Judge: Edith Hollan Jones
Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law
The Fifth Circuit granted a certificate of appealability on petitioner's claim that his trial counsel failed to subject the prosecution's case to meaningful adversarial testing in violation of United States v. Cronic, 466 U.S. 648, 104 S. Ct. 2039 (1984). Even when reviewed de novo, the court held that counsel's statements during summation and sentencing did not amount to a complete failure to mount a defense and thus Cronic does not apply. In this case, counsel did not entirely fail to subject the prosecution's case to meaningful adversarial testing. Rather, counsel actively advocated on petitioner's behalf throughout the trial and he moved to suppress evidence; he cross-examined the state's witnesses on their identification of petitioner as the culprit, ultimately impeaching several of them and prompting the arguably most critical witness to admit she lied to the police; cross-examined the detectives involved in the underlying investigation on their search and arrest of petitioner, as well as the subsequent handling of evidence; and counsel did not abandon petitioner by conceding the only factual issues in dispute.
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