Saturday, April 13, 2013

Nix v. Whiteside case brief

Nix v. Whiteside case brief summary
475 U.S. 157 (1986)

The government appealed the ruling of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit granting a writ of habeas corpus to defendant on his claim that his counsel's failure to allow him to present perjured testimony at trial constituted ineffective assistance of counsel.

OVERVIEW: Defendant was charged with murder of an acquaintance in a botched drug deal. Defendant initially told his attorney that he stabbed the victim in self defense because he saw a gun in the victim's hand. Defendant later admitted that he did not see a gun, but would testify that he did to bolster his defense. Counsel advised defendant that he could not suborn perjury, and would advise the court of defendant's plan and seek to withdraw, if he insisted on presenting perjured testimony. Defendant followed counsel's advice and testified at trial that he did not see a gun. Defendant was convicted of second-degree murder. Defendant's conviction was affirmed by the appeals court. Petitioner appealed the issuance of writ of habeas corpus to the court.

The court reversed because the right to assistance of counsel was not violated when the attorney refused to assist in presenting perjured testimony.

Counsel's duty of loyalty and duty to advocate the defendant's cause is limited to legitimate, lawful conduct compatible with the very nature of a trial as a search for truth.

OUTCOME: The court reversed the issuance of the writ of habeas corpus.

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