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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Nov 14, 2014

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys 1:

Marty B. McAfee and Gerald Skahan, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Clarence Nesbit.

Attorneys 2:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Gordon W. Smith, Associate Solicitor General; James E. Gaylord, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and John Campbell, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge(s): LEE

The issue presented is whether the defendant is entitled to a new trial based on ineffective assistance of counsel. A Shelby County jury convicted the defendant of first degree premeditated murder and sentenced him to death. Following unsuccessful appeals, the defendant filed for post-conviction relief on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court granted the defendant a new sentencing hearing, but denied him a new trial on the murder conviction. A majority of the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed, holding that any deficiency in trial counsel’s performance at the guilt phase did not result in prejudice. We hold that the defendant has not proven by clear and convincing evidence a reasonable probability that, but for the deficient performance of his trial counsel, the result would have been different. We affirm the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals and remand the case to the trial court for a new sentencing hearing.