United States Fourth Circuit

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US v. Nicholson, 08-6347

In defendant's second appeal of the district court's second denial of his petition for habeas relief, claiming that he was deprived of his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel because his lawyer had an actual conflict of interest, the denial is reversed and the matter remanded for resentencing where: 1) defendant is entitled to section 2255 relief because a self-defense departure motion was inherently in conflict with interests of counsel's other client, and thus, defendant has proven the necessary link between the counsel's conflict of interest and his failure to move for a self-defense departure; and 2) government's suggestion that defendant's habeas corpus petition is moot because he has no chance of successfully pursuing a self-defense departure on resentencing is rejected.

Appellate Information

  • Argued 09/24/2009
  • Submitted 07/12/2010
  • Decided 07/12/2010
  • Published 07/12/2010



  • United States Fourth Circuit