SCOTUS says lawyer’s brief absence doesn’t merit retrial

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The  Supreme Court of the United States says a Michigan man convicted of murder and armed robbery does not deserve a new trial even though his lawyer was absent for 10 minutes during the original trial.

The justices ruled Monday in favor of Michigan officials who want to stop a new trial for Cory Donald, one of three defendants convicted in the 2005 shooting death of Mohamed Makki.

Michigan state courts rejected Donald's claim that his lawyer was ineffective. But a federal court ruled that the absence occurred at a critical stage during testimony that implicated his co-defendants. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.

In an unsigned opinion, the Supreme Court said there was no harm to Donald because the testimony was irrelevant to his theory of the case.

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