Jefferson v. Upton

PETITIONER: Lawrence Joseph Jefferson
RESPONDENT: Stephen Upton, Warden
LOCATION: Shell Oil Products

DOCKET NO.: 09-8852
DECIDED BY: Roberts Court (2009-2010)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

CITATION: 560 US 284 (2010)
GRANTED: May 24, 2010
DECIDED: May 24, 2010

Facts of the case

A Georgia state court convicted Lawrence Jefferson of murder and sentenced him to death. On appeal at the state and then federal court level, Mr. Jefferson argued that his lawyers were constitutionally inadequate because they failed to investigate a traumatic head injury that he suffered as a child. On appeal to the U.S Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, it accepted the state court's factual findings and affirmed Mr. Jefferson's conviction and sentence.

Question

Did the Sixth Circuit err when it presumed that factual findings made by the state trial court were correct, even though there are circumstances when a federal court can set aside such findings?