Sunday, November 3, 2013

Smith v. Murray case brief

Smith v. Murray case brief summary
477 U.S. 527 (1986)

Petitioner prisoner was convicted of murder in state court. After exhausting state court remedies, the prisoner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the federal court. The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of the petition. The Court then granted certiorari.

In his federal petition for writ of habeas corpus, the prisoner alleged that admission of testimony of a psychiatrist regarding another offense violated his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The court of appeals affirmed the district court's denial of the petition.

  • On certiorari, the Court affirmed. 
  • The Court concluded that the prisoner defaulted his underlying constitutional claim when he failed to press it before the state supreme court on direct appeal. 
  • The Court held that the prisoner appealed his conviction in the state supreme court but did not assign any error concerning the psychiatrist's testimony. 
  • The prisoner contended that the default should be excused because his counsel's decision, though deliberate, was made in ignorance. 
  • The Court held that assuming as a legal matter that the psychiatrist's testimony should not have been presented to the jury, its admission did not serve to pervert the jury's deliberations concerning the ultimate question whether in fact the prisoner constituted a continuing threat to society. 
  • Therefore, the refusal to consider the defaulted claim on federal habeas did not carry with it the risk of a manifest miscarriage of justice.

The Court affirmed the denial of the prisoner's petition for writ of habeas corpus.

Recommended Supplements for Criminal Procedure Criminal Procedure: Examples & Explanations, Sixth Edition
Emanuel Law Outline: Criminal Procedure

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