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U.S. Supreme Court Debates Hearing George Huguely's Appeal

Posted: Updated: Oct 12, 2015 04:29 PM
File Image: George Huguely File Image: George Huguely
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

The United States Supreme Court is deciding if it will take up the appeal of a former University of Virginia student convicted of murder.

The justices are meeting behind closed doors to pour over thousands of cases, including George Huguely's.

Defense attorneys have appealed Huguely's case ever since he was convicted of the second-degree murder of his former-girlfriend and fellow UVA student Yeardley Love in 2010. In 2012, he was sentenced to 23 years in prison for that crime.

Huguely's defense maintains his Sixth Amendment right to counsel was violated during his original trial. One of his attorneys became sick nine days into the trial, missing several days of court proceedings and was unable to interview a defense expert about medical issues. Huguely protested at the time that the trial should not go forward without both of his attorneys present.

In April, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts granted Huguely's defense a one-month extension to file a writ of certiorari - an appeal request - to the high court.

Four justices are needed to add Huguely's case to the docket.

"This conference, the last one in September, there are literally thousands of cases they're looking at and there will be a few of those that will have risen to the top, and obviously George Huguely is hoping that his case is one of those they choose to take," said legal analyst Lloyd Snook.

Snook says the counsel question is not one the U.S. Supreme Court has talked about much.

The justices only accept about 75 of the roughly 8,000 petitions that arrive at the high court each year.

"There are a few things about his case that make it a little bit better than some other situations.  For one, he has very high powered lawyers who are going to be known to the justices and that will help," said Snook.

Huguely is represented by Paul Clement, a former U.S. Solicitor General.

This is Huguely's final chance to get his murder conviction overturned. The Supreme Court will release the entire list of cases the justices will take up on October 5.

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