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Smith v. Cain

United States Supreme Court
132 S.Ct. 627 (2012)


Facts

Larry Boatner testified that he was at a friend’s house when Juan Smith (defendant) and two others entered the home, demanded money and drugs, and then began shooting, resulting in the death of Boatner’s five friends. In court, Boatner identified Smith as the first gunman to enter the residence. No other witnesses or physical evidence implicated Smith in the crime. Smith was convicted on five counts of first-degree murder and he appealed. The Louisiana Court of Appeal affirmed the conviction and the Louisiana Supreme Court denied review, as did the U.S. Supreme Court. Smith subsequently filed for post-conviction relief in state court seeking information related to his case. As a result, Smith received notes and documents from Detective John Ronquillo, the lead investigator in Smith’s case, which directly contradicted Boatner’s testimony at trial. Ronquillo had made a handwritten account of a conversation he had with Boatner five days after the crime occurred in which Boatner said he was unable to identify any of the perpetrators and would not have known them if he saw them. Smith requested that his conviction be vacated. The trial court denied Smith’s request and both state appellate courts denied review. The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari to review.

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Roberts, C.J.)

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Dissent (Thomas, J.)

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