I am Tom Freeland, a lawyer in Oxford, Mississippi. The picture in the header is my law office. I'm on Twitter as NMissC

Missing Posts: If you have a link to a post that's not here or are looking for posts from Summer of 2010, check this page.


Here’s the McDaniel’s brief

The brief was filed today.  I’m reading through it, but it’s slow going.  First, I’m not sure whether it’s incredibly boring, or I’ve become bored with this dispute.  Second, it is incredibly redundant, says the same thing over and over, and continually repeats itself.

I’m reading through it and will probably post more when […]

Mississippi Supreme Court’s opinion in Carrothers v. State: Important case on experts & reliability of eyewitnesses

On Thursday, the Mississippi Supreme Court released an important decision in Carothers v. State, the core of which involved the admissibility of an expert witness the defendant offered on the science of the unreliability of eyewitness identification testimony.  The majority opinion, by Chandler, rejects admission largely on the theory that the expert did not observe the […]

Michelle Byrom: Miss. Supreme Court denies Attorney General’s request for an explanation

Recall that, in the last round, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed Michelle Byrom’s conviction; it seemed fairly clear that the reversal was because there was a relevant confession that pointed toward Michell Byrom’s innocence, and that this confession was never disclosed to the defense lawyers.

The Attorney General responded by, more or less, demanding […]

More speedy appellate court corrections (and, they seem to read ThusBloggedAnderson at the Court)

Folks may have been aware of the correction the United States Supreme Court ran the day after it had released a Scalia opinion that got important details of a prior Scalia opinion wrong.

Today, thanks to Anderson’s compulsively quick reading of Mississippi Supreme Court cases, and, perhaps to the fact that Anderson has at […]

Michelle Byrom: The Attorney General pleads, “Tell me why!”

The Attorney General responded to Tuesday’s order reversing Michelle Byrom’s conviction by noting that it is unprecedented since the re-imposition for the death penalty for a defendant to be allowed to win so resoundingly and so Court must explain itself.

Or something like that.

The motion makes a statement it ends with a question […]

Michelle Byrom news: Mississippi Supreme Court denies motion to set execution date

The Mississippi Supreme Court this afternoon denied the state’s motion to set an execution date but took no further action.

The order, that the state’s motion to set an execution was “not well taken and should be denied”, was unanimous, joined by all justices, and was signed by Justice Coleman.  Here it is.

Still […]

Michelle Byrom: What kind of representation did she have, Part 4: The Context for Michelle Byrom’s Ineffectiveness Claim

After Michelle Byrom lost her direct appeal, the next stage of her case was handled by the Office of Post-Conviction counsel.  Their job was to investigate possible claims that her conviction or death sentence was improper.  The most important claim they developed was that Byrom’s original lawyers had been ineffective in investigating and trying […]

Michelle Byrom–What kind of representation did she have? Part 3: Every kind of waiver you can imagine

With all due respect to Byrom’s counsel, whose intentions were no doubt admirable, the brief that was filed on her behalf falls below what I consider professionally acceptable. The recurring failure of Byrom’s counsel to adequately brief issues is a factor I have considered in concluding that Byrom’s counsels’ performance was deficient. Throughout […]

Michelle Byrom–What kind of representation did she have? Part 2: How closely decided were the cases?

Michelle Byrom had a direct appeal, a post conviction appeal, a decision by a federal judge on habeas, and a decision by the Fifth Circuit on habeas.  She filed certiorari petitions in the United States Supreme Court.

You will frequently see proponents of death sentences count up the judges involved in the process and […]

Michelle Byrom–What kind of representation did she have? Part 1: They pretty much did nothing

I’ve been thinking and reading about the Michelle Byrom case, and my reaction is complicated.  The evidence of her innocence is, from a lawyer’s perspective, equivocal, about which I will post more later.  But the evidence of whether she had due process– a fair trial– is absolutely clear.  Her lawyers were grossly incompetent, and […]