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Florida v. Nixon

United States Supreme Court
543 U.S. 175 (2004)



Joe Elton Nixon (defendant) brutally murdered Jeanne Bickner and made a full confession to police. Nixon’s appointed counsel, Michael Corin, conducted an investigation before determining that there was no question as to Nixon’s guilt. Corin attempted to negotiate a plea agreement, but the prosecution would not drop the death penalty. Corin then made a tactical decision to concede guilt at trial so that his request for mercy during sentencing would be more effective. Corin tried to consult with Nixon about this plan three times, but Nixon did not participate or consent to the strategy. At trial, Nixon became so unmanageable that the judge had to remove him. Nixon then waived his right to be present. Corin conceded guilt as planned and presented extensive mitigating evidence related to Nixon’s mental state and capacity in hopes of avoiding a death sentence. The jury convicted Nixon and sentenced him to death. The Florida State Supreme Court overturned the conviction and ordered a new trial.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Ginsburg, J.)

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