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Weaver v. Massachusetts

United States Supreme Court
582 U.S. ___, 137 S. Ct. 1899, 198 L.Ed.2d 420 (2017)


A witness saw a young man with a pistol drop a hat as he fled the scene of a shooting. Police linked DNA on the hat to sixteen-year-old Kentel Weaver (defendant) and charged him with murder. The court called 60 to 100 potential jurors but had seating for only 50 or 60, so it excluded the public from the courtroom during voir dire, including Weaver’s mother and her minister. The United States Supreme Court had not yet issued Presley v. Georgia, 558 U.S. 209 (2010), clarifying that public-trial rights include jury selection. Weaver’s counsel did not object or advise Weaver about the issue. The jury convicted Weaver and sentenced him to life imprisonment. Weaver requested a new trial based on ineffective assistance of counsel. The court found violation of the public-trial right and ineffective assistance of counsel but no resulting prejudice to Weaver’s case. After the state supreme court affirmed, Weaver appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kennedy, J.)

Concurrence (Alito, J.)

Concurrence (Thomas, J.)

Dissent (Breyer, J.)

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