Warren v. Polk

2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7871 (2017)

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Warren v. Polk

United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina
2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7871 (2017)

Facts

At the trial of Lesley Warren (plaintiff), the prosecution called several individuals as witnesses. Among other questions, the prosecution asked a witness about a motorcycle, “Did you have information that [the motorcycle] belonged to this defendant, Lesley Warren?” The witness responded with a confirmation (exchange 1). The prosecution also asked a witness, “Did he mention which hotel he left her at?” The witness responded, “Yes, but I can’t remember the name of it.” The prosecution followed up, asking, “Did he mention the Town House motel?” (exchange 2). Further, in seeking to lay the foundation for two exhibits, the prosecution stated, “Let me show you two items that I have marked for identification as State’s Exhibits 5 and 6. I’ll ask you to look at these two pictures and see if they illustrate and depict the residence there on Phillips Avenue?” (exchange 3). Finally, the prosecution asked a detective, “I think the matter became a homicide sometime later on toward Friday or Saturday of that week; is that correct?” The witness responded with a confirmation (exchange 4). This last issue was not in dispute at trial. Warren’s counsel did not object to these exchanges. Warren was convicted. Warren filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, arguing that his counsel’s failure to object to these questions on the ground that they were leading constituted ineffective assistance of counsel, denying him the right to a fair trial.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Eagles, J.)

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