Guthmiller v. WeberAnnotate this Case
Petitioner Dale Guthmiller was convicted of criminal pedophilia and sentenced to life in prison. Petitioner subsequently petitioned the circuit court for a writ of habeas corpus, alleging, among other things, that the trial judge made improper comments during the trial, violating Petitioner's constitutional right to a fair trial. The habeas court granted Petitioner's writ on reconsideration, (1) concluding that the trial judge's comments created a structural error negating Petitioner's requirement to establish prejudice, and (2) retracting its earlier ruling that trial counsel's failure to object was not prejudicial. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial judge's comments did not constitute a structural error, and (2) despite defense counsel's failure to object to the judge's improper remarks, Petitioner did not meet his burden of showing that the jury's verdict would reasonably likely have been different absent trial counsel's errors.