In Stewart v. Sec’t, Dept. of Corrections, No. 06-11684 (Jan. 31, 2007), the Court affirmed the denial of habeas corpus relief to a Florida death row inmate convicted of a 1985 murder.
The Court rejected the argument that counsel was ineffective in failing to put on sufficient mitigating evidence regarding the abuse Stewart suffered during his upbringing. The Court found that counsel supplied the mental health expert with ample evidence, and that Stewart withheld other evidence from trial counsel. The Court also noted the mental health expert’s testimony at a state post-conviction hearing that the new evidence "wouldn’t have made any difference" in his final opinion.
The Court also found no deficient performance in the defense’s failure to present evidence of substance and alcohol abuse by the defendant, noting that this would have weakened the argument that tragic family circumstances set in motion Stewart’s violent behavior.