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Wolfenbarger v. Foster

Close Date: 03/18/2013
Topic(s): Protecting Constitutional Rights and Requirements
Docket: 12-420
Court: Select Court

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Demetrius Foster was convicted of second-degree murder in a Michigan state court based on the internally contradictory testimony of one eyewitness. In his post-conviction habeas corpus proceeding, Foster argued that his counsel failed to investigate fully an alibi witness who asserted that Foster was with him and others when the murder occurred. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that Foster received ineffective assistance of counsel and ordered him retried, and the state then petitioned for Supreme Court review. The state argued that the court of appeals erred by reviewing de novo an aspect of the ineffective assistance of counsel claim that the state court had not addressed. Public Citizen assisted Foster’s habeas counsel in opposing the petition, arguing in the opposition brief that the court of appeals correctly reviewed Foster’s claim de novo, rather than deferring to a conclusion that the state court had not reached. On March 18, 2013, the Supreme Court denied review.