Maryland v. Kulbicki

PETITIONER: Maryland
RESPONDENT: James Kulbicki
LOCATION: Baltimore County Circuit Court

DOCKET NO.: 14-848
DECIDED BY: Roberts Court (2010-2016)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court

CITATION: 577 US (2015)
GRANTED: Oct 05, 2015
DECIDED: Oct 05, 2015

Facts of the case

In 1993, James Kulbicki fatally shot his 22-year-old mistress the weekend before a scheduled hearing on unpaid child support in an ongoing paternity suit between the two. At Kulbicki’s trial, the prosecution presented evidence that the bullet removed from the victim’s brain and the bullet taken from Kulbicki’s gun were a close enough match that they likely came from the same package. After being presented with this ballistics evidence, as well as other physical evidence and witness testimony, the jury convicted Kulbicki of first-degree murder.

Kulbicki filed a petition for post-conviction relief in state court in which he argued that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because his attorneys failed to question the legitimacy of the ballistics evidence. Kulbicki’s petition was denied at the trial level, but the Maryland Court of Appeals reversed and vacated Kulbicki’s conviction.

Question

Did the Maryland Court of Appeals properly vacate Kulbicki’s conviction on the grounds that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because his attorneys failed to question the legitimacy of the ballistics evidence presented against him?

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