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Schriro v. Landrigan

Docket No.: 05-1575
Certiorari Granted: Sep 26 2006
Argued: January 9, 2007
Decided: May 14, 2007

Topics:

abuse of discretion, EPA, habeas, ineffective assistance of counsel, judicial review, murder

PartyNames: Dora B. Schriro, Director, Arizona Department of Corrections v. Jeffrey Timothy Landrigan, aka Billy Patrick Wayne Hill
Petitioner: Dora B. Schriro, Director, Arizona Department of Corrections
Respondent: Jeffrey Timothy Landrigan, aka Billy Patrick Wayne Hill

Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Dora B. Schriro, Director, Arizona Department of Corrections
v.
Jeffrey Timothy Landrigan, aka Billy Patrick Wayne Hill
550 U.S. 465 (2007)
Background:

Respondent Jeffrey Landrigan actively thwarted his attorney's efforts to develop and present mitigation evidence in his capital sentencing proceeding. Landrigan told the trial judge that he did not want his attorney to present any mitigation evidence, including proposed testimony from witnesses whom his attorney had subpoenaed to testify. On post-conviction review, the state court rejected as frivolous an ineffective assistance of counsel claim in which Landrigan asserted that if counsel had raised the issue of Landrigan's alleged genetic predisposition to violence, he would have cooperated in presenting that type of mitigating evidence.

Question Presented:

1. In light of the highly deferential standard of review required in this case pursuant to the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), did the Ninth Circuit err by holding that the state court unreasonably determined the facts when it found that Landrigan "instructed his attorney not to present any mitigating evidence at the sentencing hearing"? 2. Did the Ninth Circuit err by finding that the state court's analysis of Landrigan's ineffective assistance of counsel claim was objectively unreasonable under Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), notwithstanding the absence of any contrary authority from this Court in cases in which (a) the defendant waives presentation of mitigation and impedes counsels attempts to do so, or (b) the evidence the defendant subsequently claims should have been presented is not mitigating?

Question:

1) Did the Ninth Circuit err by holding that the state court unreasonably determined the facts of the case when it found that Landrigan "instructed his attorney not to present any mitigating evidence at the sentencing hearing"? 2) Was the Ninth Circuit correct to hold that counsel for Landrigan's failure to present mitigating evidence during the sentencing phase rendered him objectively ineffective, even though Landrigan had opposed the admission of the evidence?

Holding: judgment reversed and remanded
Vote: 5-4
Opinion By:
Read SCHRIRO V. LANDRIGAN opinion (PDF)

Read opinion
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