HARRINGTON v. RICHTER

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
09-587
Petitioner 
Kelly Harrington, Warden
Respondent 
Joshua Richter
Decided By 
Advocates
(Deputy Attorney General of California, for the petitioner)
(for the respondent)
Term:
Facts of the Case 

A California trial court convicted Joshua Richter of burglary and murder. He exhausted his state court remedies and filed for habeas corpus relief in a California federal district court. Mr. Richter argued that he was denied effective assistance of counsel in violation of the Sixth Amendment. The district court denied the petition and was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

However, upon rehearing en banc, the Ninth Circuit granted the petition, holding that the state court's determination that Mr. Richter was not denied effective assistance of counsel was unreasonable. The court reasoned that under Strickland v. Washington the defendant must show that "counsel's performance was deficient." And, the defendant must show that "the deficient performance prejudiced the defense." Here, the requirements of Strickland were met when Mr. Richter's counsel failed to conduct sufficient pre-trial investigation to determine what forensic evidence or experts would be useful to the defense's theory when it was foreseeable what evidence the state would introduce.

Question 

Is a defense lawyer deficient for failing to consult blood evidence when planning strategy for trial?

Conclusion 
Decision: 8 votes for Harrington, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: 28 U. S. C. §2254(d)

No. Reversing the lower court order, the court held that the defense lawyer was not deficient in failing to consult blood evidence when planning strategy for trial. Justice Anthony Kennedy authored the opinion, which was joined by eight of the justices with Justice Elena Kagan taking no part in the consideration of the case. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg filed an opinion concurring in the judgment.

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HARRINGTON v. RICHTER. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 10 September 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2010/2009_09_587>.
HARRINGTON v. RICHTER, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2010/2009_09_587 (last visited September 10, 2014).
"HARRINGTON v. RICHTER," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed September 10, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2010/2009_09_587.