Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Just in from the Fifth Circuit

Just out is an unusual case, click here, in that TCCA had ordered a review by affidavit after a recommendation (without conducting a hearing) from the trial court to deny relief, following which the district court conducted even more extensive hearing and fact-finding proceedings. Many if not most cases are decided with little or no fact finding below. At least St. Aubins can feel like the courts looked at the evidence in his case. The court also updated its formulation of AEDPA deference, reying on the Neal, Henderson, Collier and Cluck cases from within the circuit, and Williams, Bell, and Rompilla from SCOTUS; and concerning the failure to investigate claim, Miller, 420 F.3d, Wiggins, and Strickland. Because the facts revealed that St. Aubin's lawyer had conducted a pretty thorough investigation and decided not to investigate further or present evidence at issue to a jury the court affirmed the denial of relief.

But it is surprising and highly questionable for the court to rule categorically that it was not unreasonable to investigate mental health history further just because what was discovered was thought to be damaging. That completely discounts the possibility that mitigating evidence might have been uncovered upon further analysis and investigation.

The court also presented some interesting cases and comments on "double edged" evidence.

St. Aubin v. Quarterman, No. 05-40277 (Fifth Circuit, Nov. 21, 2006)

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