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Florida v. Nixon

Docket No.: 03-931
Certiorari Granted: Mar 1 2004
Argued: November 2, 2004
Decided: December 13, 2004

Topics:

Amendment 8: Cruel and Unusual Punishment, Criminal Procedure, Right to Counsel, Assistance of Counsel, Death Penalty, Eighth Amendment, Equal Protection Clause, Fifth Amendment, First Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, Sixth Amendment, ineffective assistance of counsel, jury selection, murder, racial discrimination, racial segregation, self-incrimination

PartyNames: Florida v. Joe Elton Nixon
Petitioner: Florida
Respondent: Joe Elton Nixon

Court Below: Supreme Court of Florida
Citation: 857 So2d 172
Supreme Court Docket

Florida
v.
Joe Elton Nixon
543 U.S. 175 (2004)
Question Presented:

In a capital murder case, the Florida Supreme Court: (A) applied an incorrect standard, contrary to Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685 (2002) and Roe v. Flores-Ortega, 120 S.CT. 1029 (2000), by finding defense counsel ineffective per se under United States v. Cronic, 466 U.S. 648 (1984) despite having found counsel's strategy not to contest overwhelming evidence of guilt but to vigorously contest the sentence in the defendant's best interest and reasonably calculated to avoid a death sentence, and (B) erred in concluding that Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 238 (1969) prohibited trial counsel from adopting a strategy, after fully informing his client, without objection, not to contest overwhelming evidence of guilt to protect the best interest of his client in contesting the appropriateness of imposing the death penalty.

Question:

1.) Is a defense lawyer's use of a strategy that concedes the defendant's guilt ineffective assistance of counsel if the strategy was pursued without the explicit approval of the defendant? 2.) Should counsel be held to a standard that considers whether counsel's statements were deficient and prejudicial to the defendant, or should counsel be considered ineffective per se?

Florida v. Nixon
ORAL ARGUMENT

November 2, 2004

Holding: reversed and remanded
Decision: Decision: 8 votes for Florida, 0 vote(s) against
Vote: 8-0
Recused: Chief Justice Robert
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