6th Circuit Shame

Adam Liptak is right on this one:

Defense lawyers in capital cases are often criticized for conducting superficial investigations of their clients’ backgrounds, but Ferdinand Radolovich’s performance in a Kentucky case, one that ended in a death sentence, may have set a new standard.

“Apparently,” a federal judge wrote in 2001, “neither attorney Radolovich nor the prosecution knew of petitioner’s actual identity until his case had been affirmed on appeal.”

When he was later challenged about the quality of his work on the case, Mr. Radolovich testified that he was an accomplished death penalty lawyer at the time, having tried four capital cases. The real number was zero, the federal judge, Jennifer B. Coffman, found, and Mr. Radolovich has been indicted for perjury for his statement.

But none of this has helped the inmate in question, who was sent to death row as James Slaughter but whose real name is Jeffrey Leonard.

Yesterday in Cincinnati, splitting 7 to 7, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit declined to rehear the case.

For shame.

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