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159948 - People v Terry Lee Ceasor

The People of the State of Michigan,

 

Hilary Georgia

 

Plaintiff-Appellee,

 

v

(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)

 

 

(St. Clair – Adair, J.)

 

Terry Lee Ceasor,

 

David Moran

 

Defendant-Appellant.

 

Summary

Following a jury trial in 2005, the defendant was convicted of first-degree child abuse and was sentenced to 2 to 15 years in prison in a case alleging shaken baby syndrome.  The conviction was affirmed on appeal, and the defendant was denied relief after filing a motion for relief from judgment.  The defendant pursued habeas corpus relief in federal court, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held in 2016 that the defendant’s appellate counsel performed deficiently on direct appeal by not requesting an evidentiary hearing on the issue whether trial counsel was ineffective for failing to retain an expert witness.  The federal district court, on remand, ordered the Michigan Court of Appeals to grant the defendant a new direct appeal of right.  The case went back to the trial court on a motion for new trial.  Following an evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied the motion, and the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court in an unpublished opinion.  The Supreme Court has ordered oral argument on the application to address whether the defendant was denied the effective assistance of trial counsel due to counsel’s failure to seek funds from the circuit court to hire an expert witness or to otherwise obtain and present the testimony of an expert witness.​