The U.S. Supreme Court said Monday it will consider effectiveness standards for attorneys, focusing on the Florida case of a condemned man whose lawyer admitted his guilt.
The Florida Supreme Court in 2000 ordered a new trial for Joe Elton Nixon, who was convicted in the 1984 murder near Tallahassee of a woman he met at a mall, reports the Associated Press. An appeal of the Florida ruling led to the U.S. Supreme Court, which will consider the case in the fall.
Prosecutors said Nixon kidnapped Jeanne Bickner, 38, who was helping him start his stalled car, tied her to a tree with her jumper cables and set her on fire.
At issue in the case is the decision of Nixon’s public defender to tell jurors the woman died a “horrible, horrible” death and that his client was guilty, in hopes that his candor would persuade the jury to spare Nixon’s life.
The strategy did not work. Nixon was sentenced to death for Bickner’s murder.