Schmidt v. Foster

Appleton, Wisc. man murders his estranged wife. His defense is that she provoked him, so it’s second-degree murder rather than first. The trial judge has to decide if there’s enough evidence to allow the defense, but the man doesn’t want to disclose more strategy. So the judge listens to the man ramble about the murder privately in chambers; defense counsel is there but not allowed to talk. Judge then rules there’s not enough evidence for the man to argue provocation, and he’s convicted in the first degree. The man, on habeas: A silenced lawyer violates my right to counsel. The Seventh Circuit, en banc and over a dissent: It’s dodgy, but not dodgy enough to give you a new trial.

Tags: 2018, Habeas Corpus, Right to Counsel, Seventh Circuit

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