Atkins v. Hooper, No. 19-30018 (5th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254(d) based on a Confrontation Clause violation. Petitioner was convicted by a jury of armed robbery and aggravated battery.
The court first held that the state intentionally waived its defense of procedural default. The court also held that the state district court's decision that no Confrontation Clause violation occurred through the handling of a detective's testimony constitutes an unreasonable application of Supreme Court precedent, and the state waived harmlessness. In this case, the detective testified that a nontestifying witness implicated petitioner and the prosecution likewise referenced that testimony in its closing argument. Therefore, such testimony violates the Confrontation Clause. The court remanded for the district court to grant habeas relief.