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Taylor v. Medeiros, No. 19-1552 (1st Cir. 2020)

The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Appellant’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus, holding that the the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts (SJC) reasonably applied clearly established law in holding that improper statements by the prosecutor during Appellant’s trial did not render the trial fundamentally unfair.

After a jury trial in Massachusetts state court Appellant was convicted of murder in the second degree and sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal, Appellant argued that the prosecutor’s closing argument was improper. The SJC affirmed Appellant’s conviction, concluding that the prosecutor’s “unfortunate” remarks did not warrant a new trial. Appellant later filed a habeas petition, which the district court denied. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court’s conclusion that the prosecutor’s challenged statements did not render Appellant’s trial fundamentally unfair was a reasonable application of clearly established federal law as determined by the Supreme Court.

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