Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Friday, February 05, 2010

Green: Counsel Ineffective, But not prejudicially so

In Green v. Nelson, No. 08-11212 (Feb. 4, 2010), the Court granted partial habeas relief to a Georgia inmate convicted of aggravated sodomy and rape.

The Court agreed with Green that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to move to suppress blood and DNA evidence on the ground that this evidence was obtained based on a false affidavit. The affidavit did contain materially false information; trial counsel did not make a strategic decision not to suppress the evidence, but failed to realize that the affidavit was false. However, the ineffectiveness did not prejudice Green, because other correct information in the affidavit would have sufficed to establish probable cause for the search for blood and DNA evidence.

Turning to the sufficiency of the evidence of the aggravated sodomy, the Court agreed with Green that there was insufficient evidence to support this conviction. Green was charged with having placed his penis in the anus of his victim. However, the Court found no evidence of this contact.