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McFarland v. State

928 S.W.2d 482 (1996)

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McFarland v. State

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

928 S.W.2d 482 (1996)

Facts

George Edward McFarland (defendant) was on trial for capital murder, arising from a killing committed in the course of a robbery. McFarland retained the services of 72-year-old John Benn as his attorney. The trial court appointed Sandy Melamed as an additional attorney for McFarland, apparently because the court lacked confidence in Benn’s ability to represent McFarland adequately. Benn acted as lead counsel but did not coordinate any legal strategy or engage in joint preparation with Melamed. Benn prepared no motions, made no requests for subpoenas, and did not speak to any witnesses. Melamed did prepare and file several motions but did not speak to any of the prosecution’s witnesses. Melamed conducted himself reasonably during the trial, but Benn often fell asleep during the trial in the afternoons. McFarland was eventually convicted and sentenced to death. The case was automatically appealed. At appeal, McFarland argued that he had not received effective assistance of counsel.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

Dissent (Baird, J.)

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