December 4, 2009 By Wallin & Klarich

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently overturned a defendant’s death penalty finding that his lawyer did not provide effective assistance of counsel.

In 1982, in an Arizona state court, Laurence Libberton was convicted of the murder of Juan Maya. The key witness at the trial, Martin Norton, a juvenile also charged in connection with the crime, testified that the Libberton shot Maya. During the penalty phase of the trial, Libberton’s counsel only called two witnesses, and Libberton was subsequently sentenced to death for the murder.

On appeal, Libberton presented evidence that was unavailable to him at trial. The appeals court initially ruled that the additional evidence could not be admitted because it was not part of the record at trial. The Ninth Circuit reversed, finding that the evidence was available at trial, but Libberton’s lawyer did not present it and was therefore ineffective. Here, Libberton’s counsel failed to present evidence that could have established that Norton was emotionally unstable and an unreliable witness. The failure to present this evidence-or even to seek it-was unjustified and highly prejudicial. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Libberton’s death sentence and gave the state reasonable time to resentence.

Having an effective attorney is extremely important at all phases of the trial. The attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience in arguing for factors that will lessen the time served in prison. These factors could mean the difference between a few years in jail or a few months in jail, or in this case, life and death. Our attorneys aggressively defend our clients at every stage and work diligently to give our clients the best possible defense. Our attorneys can be contacted by phone at 1-888-280-6839 or through our website at

Contact Us
  •   17592 Irvine Blvd,
      Tustin, CA 92780
  •   (714) 730-5300
  •   (888) 280-6839
SCHEDULE YOUR free consultation

If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime, this is the time to contact us.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Copyright © 2024 Wallin & Klarich - All rights reserved

California Criminal Defense Lawyer Disclaimer: The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor should it be considered the formation of a lawyer or attorney-client relationship. Any case results presented on the site are based upon the facts of a particular case and do not represent a promise or guarantee. The contents of this website may contain legal advertising. If you would like to find out more information about your particular legal matter, contact our office for a free telephonic consultation. This web site is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the state of California.