CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Texas Death Sentence Upheld With Incompetent Counsel

The state's highest court for criminal appeals Wednesday affirmed the conviction of a death-row inmate whose appointed lawyer submitted a court pleading with rambling arguments apparently lifted from his client's own letters.

In a three-paragraph order, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals put a stamp of approval on a lower judge's ruling in the case of Daniel Clate Acker, a high-school dropout convicted of killing his girlfriend in Hopkins County in 2000.

The ruling makes no direct mention of the 800-pound gorilla in the case — a court pleading that Greenville attorney Toby C. Wilkinson filed. His writ of habeas corpus — which observers say appeared to be cut and pasted — is cited by some as a prime example of the state's failure to adequately examine death penalty convictions.

Wilkinson's writ appeared to copy Acker's letters from death row so that, instead of citing legal cases, the writ echoes Acker's unintelligible arguments, flawed grammar and even his complaint that he was about to run out of paper.  Rest of article... [Mark Godsey]

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