Saturday, March 19, 2005

Habeas relief denied in N.C. death penalty case

In Jones v. Polk, the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by Judge Motz, joined by Judge Widener with Judge Michael dissenting in part and concurring in part, affirmed the denial of post-conviction relief to a defendant who for the murder of his adult son was given the death sentence by a jury in North Carolina. The majority agreed that the trial court's exclusion of evidence of the defendant's remorse was harmless error, and there was no error in denying a hearing to explore the "ill-advised" concurrent representation by the defendant's counsel of both the defendant and, in an unrelated matter, a witness for the prosecution, who testified that the defendant shot the victim and "walked away like he shot a dog." Judge Michael, in his dissent, opined that there should have been a hearing on the issue of the attorney's conflict of interest.

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