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McNeal v. Adams, No. 08-16472

Child Molestation Habeas Petition

In McNeal v. Adams, No. 08-16472, a child molestation prosecution, the court affirmed the denial of petitioner's petition for writ of habeas corpus, holding that 1) the state-court findings that petitioner's Sixth Amendment right to counsel was not violated under the Strickland prejudice inquiry were not contrary to, or an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law; and 2) counsel was not needed to help petitioner understand the legal issues because no basis existed for denying the motion at issue.

As the court wrote:  "Petitioner argues that because his counsel was not present at the hearing on the prosecution's motion to compel a DNA sample, Petitioner was deprived of counsel at a "critical stage" in the proceedings and his conviction must be reversed without inquiry into prejudice. We issue this opinion to clarify the difference between a stage at which the defendant has a right to counsel, see Mempa v. Rhay, 389 U.S. 128, 134 (1967), and a critical stage requiring per se reversal if counsel is absent, see United States v. Cronic, 466 U.S. 648, 658-59 (1984)."

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