Burden v. Zant, 510 U.S. 132 (1994) (per curiam)

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Per Curiam


on petition for writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the eleventh circuit

No. 92-8836. Decided January 10, 1994

The first time petitioner Burden's habeas petition was before this Court, his case was remanded so that his claim that his pretrial counsel's conflict of interest denied his right to effective assistance of counsel could be considered by the Court of Appeals "free from" that court's erroneous failure to credit a state-court finding that the key prosecution witness was granted immunity while represented by Burden's counsel. 498 U. S. 433. In rejecting his claim a second time, the Court of Appeals held that it did not have to presume the immunity finding's correctness because the state court had not adequately developed the finding. It reasoned that the state court's conclusion amounted to mere personal impression on an issue not subject to significant dispute at trial and stated that the District Court had found that the key witness had not been granted immunity.

Held: The Court of Appeals' decision was based on a manifest error. The District Court did not make the immunity finding as claimed by the Court of Appeals, and the Court of Appeals overlooked evidence strongly supporting Burden's contention regarding an immunity deal. On remand, the Court of Appeals or, subject to its further order, the District Court must determine whether counsel's representation created an actual conflict of interest adversely affecting his performance.

Certiorari granted; 975 F. 2d 771, reversed and remanded.

Per Curiam.

In Burden v. Zant, 498 U. S. 433 (1991) (per curiam), we reversed a judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which had upheld denial of habeas relief on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel due to conflict of interest. The case is before us again on a petition seeking review of the decision rendered on remand, 975 F. 2d 771 (1992), in which the Court of Appeals once again rejected Burden's claim that he had been deprived of the right to be represented by counsel free of conflict of interest.

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