Saturday, November 2, 2013

Williams v. Taylor case brief

Williams v. Taylor case brief summary
529 U.S. 362 (2000)

Petitioner sought a writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which reversed a determination on federal habeas corpus review that petitioner's death sentence was constitutionally infirm.

Petitioner admitted to killing a person. A jury found a probability of future dangerousness and unanimously fixed petitioner's punishment at death. In petitioner's state habeas corpus proceedings alleging ineffective assistance of counsel, the state circuit court recommended a rehearing on the sentencing phase of petitioner's trial. The state supreme court did not accept that recommendation, determining that the omitted evidence would not have affected the jury's sentencing recommendation. Petitioner sought a federal writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.S. § 2254.

  • The Court reversed the judgment of the federal appellate court, which determined that petitioner's death sentence was not constitutionally infirm. 
  • The Court determined that petitioner's constitutional right to the effective assistance of counsel was violated and that the state supreme court's decision refusing to set aside petitioner's death sentence was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law within the meaning of 28 U.S.C.S. § 2254(d)(1).


Judgment was reversed because petitioner's constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel was violated and the state supreme court analyzed the ineffective-assistance claim under the incorrect standard.

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

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