In Finch v. Payne, No. 19-2369 (8th Cir. Dec. 18, 2020), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held that the petitioner was entitled to release or a new trial because the Arkansas Supreme Court had articulated the correct legal framework for evaluating petitioner’s Sixth Amendment argument—but had applied that framework to the facts in an objectively unreasonable manner.

The case arose from the criminal convictions of Elliot Harold Finch Jr. In August 2013, Finch broke into his ex-girlfriend’s home and held her at gunpoint. The ex-girlfriend’s two children were also in the residence at the time. Finch threatened to kill the children, the ex-girlfriend, and himself. In an attempt to defuse the situation, the ex-girlfriend eventually had sex with Finch. After Finch allowed her to leave the next morning, she called the police, resulting in Finch’s arrest and prosecution by the State of Arkansas.

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