Burford v. MississippiAnnotate this Case
Cynthia Burford was convicted by jury of burglary of a welling. The circuit court sentenced her to serve fifteen years in the custod of the Mississippi Department of Corrections and to pay a fine, restitution and court costs. The Court of Appeals declined to review her argument her defense counsel rendered ineffective assistance by making an untimely motion to suppress her confessions, finding the argument was most appropriate in post-conviction proceedings. The Mississippi Supreme Court found Burford received ineffective assistance of counsel. A video of Burford’s confession shows that a peace officer made several threats and promises to Burford. The officer acknowledged during his trial testimony that he had made the threats and promises in an effort to induce Burford’s confession. Under the circumstances, defense counsel rendered deficient performance by failing to make a timely motion to suppress the video confession and a subsequent written confession. Burford was prejudiced because a reasonable probability existed that the trial court would have granted a timely motion to suppress the confessions and because the confessions were the primary evidence of Burford’s guilt of burglary of a dwelling. "But for the admission of Burford’s confessions, the State’s only evidence of her guilt of burglary was that stolen items were found at her residence and in a car registered to her relative." Because the record affirmatively reflected deficient attorney performance and resulting prejudice, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded for a new trial.