Richardson v. Branker, No. 11-1 (4th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
The State sought reversal of the district court's judgment granting a writ of habeas corpus to petitioner. In granting the writ, the district court vacated the sentence of death imposed after petitioner's conviction of first degree murder. The district court concluded, inter alia, that the state courts of North Carolina unreasonably applied Strickland v. Washington, in rejecting petitioner's claim that his attorney on direct appeal failed to provide effective assistance of counsel. The court held that the district court's decision granting petitioner's petition ran contrary to the deference that federal courts were required to afford state court decisions adjudicating the merits of habeas corpus claims. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's judgment granting the petition on the claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. The court affirmed the remainder of the district court's judgment, rejecting petitioner's Brady v. Maryland and Atkins v. Virginia claims.