Robbins v. Texas

Amicus curiae brief of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in support of the petition for certiorari.

Brief filed: 01/20/2012


Robbins v. Texas

United States Supreme Court; Case No. 11-777


Neal Robbins was convicted of capital murder of his girlfriend’s 17-month-old child based on the testimony of a medical examiner who later re-evaluated her opinion and swears that she can no longer stand by her testimony that the child died of asphyxiation. Lower courts are divided as to whether new scientific evidence warrants a new trial. The Court should reverse the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and grant Robbins a new trial for three reasons: (1) scientific evidence plays an increasingly important role in criminal trials, and courts need guidance on how best to account for evidence that is shown to be unreliable after conviction; (2) the holding of the court of criminal appeals violates due process by heightening the burden of proof non the petitioner in a post-conviction proceeding to an impossibly high level; and (3) this case is the right vehicle for review of this issue because it presents a situation where the scientific evidence was the only direct evidence of homicide and thus central to Robbins’ conviction and was recanted in full by the expert witness.

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Nancy Winkelman, Samuel W. Silver and Sara A. Aliabadi, Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP, Philadelphia, PA.