Sunday, December 22, 2013

Avery v. Alabama case brief

Avery v. Alabama case brief summary
308 U.S. 444 (1940)

Defendant challenged a judgment of the Alabama Supreme Court that affirmed his conviction of murder and his sentence of death. Following a trial, the jury had returned a verdict of guilty with the death penalty. The Court granted certiorari.

Defendant was arraigned at a regular term of the trial court; two practicing attorneys of the local bar were appointed to defend him; pleas of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity were entered and the presiding judge set his trial for two days later. The case was called three days later. Defendant's attorneys filed a motion for continuance, accompanied by their affidavits, on the ground that they had not had sufficient time and opportunity since their appointment to investigate and prepare his defense. After the jury returned their verdict, counsel moved for a new trial, setting up error in the failure to grant the continuance.


  • Affirming, the Court held that under the particular circumstances appearing in the record, defendant was not denied the benefit of assistance of counsel guaranteed to him by the Fourteenth Amendment. 
  • Counsel's appointment and the representation rendered under it were not mere formalities, but counsel had contested every step of the way leading to final disposition of the case.

The Court affirmed the judgment of the lower court.

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