CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, May 14, 2007

SCOTUS Decides Schriro v Landigan

From The Supreme Court recently decided Schriro v Landigan.

Respondent Landrigan refused to allow his counsel to present the testimony of his ex-wife and birth mother as mitigating evidence at his sentencing hearing for a felony-murder conviction. He also interrupted as counsel tried to proffer other evidence, and he told the Arizona trial judge he did not wish to present any mitigating evidence and to “bring on” the death penalty.

The court sentenced him to death, and the sentence was affirmed. The state postconviction court rejected Landrigan’s claim that his counsel was ineffective for failing to conduct further investigation into mitigating circumstances, finding that he had instructed counsel at sentencing not to present any mitigating evidence at all. Landrigan then filed a federal habeas petition under 28 U. S. C. §2254. Exercising its discretion, the District Court refused to grant him an evidentiary hearing because he could not make out even a colorable ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim.

The en banc Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that Landrigan’s counsel’s performance fell below the standard required by Strickland v. Washington, 466 U. S. 668 .

The Supreme COurt held that the District Court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to grant Landrigan an evidentiary hearing. [Mark Godsey]

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