United States Third Circuit

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Branch v. Sweeney, 13-1657

The district court's denial of the petition for writ of habeas corpus challenging defendant's conviction on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel, is reversed and remanded, where: 1) there is no justification for defendant's trial counsel's failure to call the two potentially exculpatory witnesses to testify at defendant's trial; 2) the state courts' conclusions that defendant's counsel's representation was not deficient and that his counsel's failure to call the witnesses did not prejudice defendant were unreasonable applications of federal law, and the district court therefore was required to review defendant's petition de novo; 3) that review, in turn, would have required the court to hold a hearing to ascertain trial counsel's reasons for not calling the potential witnesses; and 4) because the court did not take these steps, it abused its discretion.

Appellate Information

  • Decided 07/09/2014
  • Published 07/09/2014




  • United States Third Circuit


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