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Supreme Court delivers two opinions; Kagan recuses on both

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court says a man whose lawyer didn’t challenge his confession to murder will not get his sentence thrown out.

The high court on Wednesday overturned a decision by the federal appeals court in the case of Randy Moore.

Moore pleaded no contest to murder charges in the shooting death of Kenneth Rogers during a 1995 kidnapping and received a 25-year sentence in Oregon prison. He appealed, saying his lawyer should have tried to suppress his confession to police.

The state courts turned away his petition, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that his lawyer performed unreasonably.

The Supreme Court overturned that decision in a unanimous judgment written by Justice Anthony Kennedy.

In another opinion filed Wednesday, the court says a convicted murderer was not harmed by his lawyer’s failure to pursue a forensic examination of a pool of blood at the crime scene.

Joshua Richter was convicted of killing Patrick Klein by shooting him during a robbery at Klein’s house in Sacramento County, Calif. His lawyer did not ask for a forensic test of blood on the floor at Klein’s apartment.

Richter said the pool of blood could have proved that Klein was killed in crossfire, instead of shot while sleeping on a couch.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that Richter’s lawyer should have done tests on the blood, instead of depending on testimony from expert witnesses at the trial.

“It was at least arguable that a reasonable attorney could decide to forgo inquiry into the blood evidence in the circumstances here,” said Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the unanimous judgment for the court.

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