Brief filed: 07/20/2020
Kendricks v. Parris
6th Circuit Court of Appeals; Case No. 19-6226
Decision below Kendricks v. Phillips, 2019 WL 4757813 (E.D.Tenn. Sept. 30, 2019)
Investigation of the prosecution’s scientific or technical evidence on critical facts essential to the defense is a necessary part of rendering constitutionally adequate counsel. Counsel’s investigation of forensic sciences and techniques related to a fact essential to a defense is critical because of the powerful impact expert testimony has at trial. The National Research Council of the National Academy of Science’s report on the forensic science community highlights the shortcomings of the field as well as the powerful impact that faulty forensic science can have on those accused of a crime. Extensive research has shown a positive correlation between faulty forensic science testimony and the wrongful conviction of those accused of a crime. The United States Supreme Court’s analysis of defense counsel’s responsibilities to investigate and obtain expert assistance in Hinton v. Alabama directly applies to this case. Trial counsel’s failure to introduce Inspector Miller’s statements through the excited-utterance exception is the kind of unforced error that the Supreme Court recognizes as constitutionally inadequate.
Thomas Anthony Swafford and Joshua Counts Cumby, Adams and Reese LLP, Nashville, TN; Jessica Van Dyke, Tennessee Innocence Project, Nashville, TN; Jonathan Harwell, TACDL, Knoxville, TN; Stephen Ross Johnson, NACDL, Knoxville, TN.