October 12th, 2018
US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Opinions
Mejia v. Davis
Opinion Date: October 11, 2018
Judge: Stuart Kyle Duncan
Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law
The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's grant of habeas corpus ordering petitioner to be retried for killing the victim in a bar fight. The court held that the federal court failed to defer to the state court's reasonable application of Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), and therefore erred in granting petitioner habeas corpus relief. The court held that, given counsel's all-or-nothing strategy, he reasonably declined a "double-edged" manslaughter instruction that could have lowered petitioner's chances of an acquittal; even assuming counsel should have sought a sudden passion instruction, it was unlikely that the instruction would have changed petitioner's sentence; and neither conclusion would have been an objectively unreasonable application of Strickland by the state habeas court.
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