On October 8, 2013, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Burt v. Titlow. This case involves an appeal by the State of Michigan from a federal grant of habeas relief to a state prisoner.  The appeal presents three questions: (1) whether the federal court erroneously deferred to a state court determination that the prisoner (then defendant) was denied effective assistance of counsel when his attorney allowed him to withdraw a manslaughter plea and maintain a claim of innocence, with the result that he was convicted of second-degree murder, a more serious crime; (2) whether the prisoner’s own testimony, standing alone, is sufficient to establish that but for ineffective assistance of counsel, he would have accepted the plea to the lesser charge of manslaughter; and (3) if so, whether Supreme Court precedent requires the state court to resentence the prisoner as if the plea to the lesser manslaughter offense had been accepted.

To discuss the case, we have Ronald Eisenberg, Deputy District Attorney, Philadelphia District Attorney's Office.

[Return to the SCOTUScast menu