Supreme Court hears arguments in 'harmless error' case Alexis Unkovic at 7:00 PM ET
[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] heard oral arguments [transcript, PDF] Tuesday in the case of Fry v. Pliler [Duke Law case backgrounder; merit briefs], 06-5247, a case in which the defendant was convicted on two counts of murder following two mistrials. Fry subsequently filed several habeas appeals, arguing the trial court improperly precluded a key defense witness from testifying. The Supreme Court will now address whether a court should apply the "harmless beyond a reasonable doubt" standard of Chapman v. California [opinion] or the substantial and injurious effect standard of Brecht v. Abrahamson [opinion] in a federal habeas proceeding for which the lower state courts did not conduct a harmless error analysis. There is currently split authority among the US Circuit Courts of Appeals on this issue.
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