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LAW 4051 (31)
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Chapter 16

LAW 4051 Chapter 16: Wiggins
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Department
Law
Course
LAW 4051
Professor
Blume
Semester
Spring

Description
Wiggins v. Smith (2003) Facts • Wiggins was found guilty of capital murder, robbery, and two counts of theft - murdered a 77 year old woman • Public defenders, Schlaich and Nethercott, moved to bifurcate the sentencing, wanting to prove ◦ Wiggins did not act as a "principle in the first degree" (didn't kill by own hand) ◦ THEN present a mitigation case • court denies motion • at sentencing, Nethercott tells the jury that they will hear about the defendant's difficult life, but it never actually comes up as evidence ◦ when Schlaich goes over the evidence they would have introduced, had there been a bifurcated trial, the facts of the defendant's childhood and familial background don't come up at all • jury gives DP; court of appeals affirms • Wiggins seeks postconviction relief on the basis that his counsel rendered ineffective assitance by failing to investigate the mitigating evidence of his background ◦ Trial Court denies petition; Court of Appeals affirms the denial on the basis that the counsel's decision was "deliberate" and "tactical" ◦ Federal District Court grants relief on habeas petition ◦ Fourth Circuit reversed ◦ SC grants certiorari Issue: Whether the investigation supporting counsel's decision not to introduce mitigating evidence of Wiggins' background was itself reasonable. Discussion • Strickland I: counsel did not conduct a reasonable i
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