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McClure v. Thompson

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
323 F.3d 1233 (2003)


Carol Jones was found murdered in her home, and her two children were missing. Robert McClure (defendant) was a friend of Jones, and his fingerprints were found in the blood in Jones’s home. McClure was arrested, and Christopher Mecca was hired to be McClure’s attorney. Mecca spoke with McClure several times over the next few days. Based on these conversations, Mecca believed that the children might still be alive. Eventually, McClure disclosed that he had fantasies involving young girls and drew a map that showed two locations where the children might be. Later that night, McClure called Mecca and told him that Satan had killed Jones. Mecca asked about the children, and McClure stated that Jesus had saved them. Mecca believed this might mean the children were still alive. Mecca sought advice about his ability to disclose this information to the police and was advised against it. Mecca met with McClure again the following morning. Mecca told McClure that, if the children were alive, they had an obligation to tell the police where the children were. Mecca did not directly ask McClure if the children were still alive, but Mecca told McClure that Mecca was planning to make an anonymous phone call to the police to tell them the locations on the map. According to Mecca, McClure nodded. Mecca’s secretary called the police anonymously and gave them the locations. The children were found, but they had been shot and killed. McClure was convicted of the murder of all three. Subsequently, McClure filed a habeas corpus petition, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. The trial court held an evidentiary hearing and denied the petition. McClure appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Fletcher, J.)

Dissent (Ferguson, J.)

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