Published on: Friday, March 24, 2023

Fourth Circuit (2021): This petitioner's South Carolina state court death sentence was defective because his trial counsel failed to present mitigating evidence during sentencing. We relied on evidence introduced in his federal habeas proceedings. Supreme Court (2022): Dear circuit court, reconsider your judgment in light of Shinn v. Martinez Ramirez, where we said you can't do that. Fourth Circuit (2023): Fine. But our answer is the same because the State didn't properly raise the argument that the evidence was inadmissible. Dissent: C'mon, we could excuse the government's failure to challenge the evidentiary hearing. 

The case is Stokes v. Stirling, No. 18-6 (4th Cir. Mar. 22, 2023).