Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Williams: Counsel not ineffective for failing to call psychopharmacologist

In Williams v. Allen, No. 08-11905 (March 4, 2010), the Court denied habeas relief to an Alabama death row inmate convicted of two murders in 1992.

The Court rejected Williams’ argument that his counsel was ineffective for pursuing an insanity defense. It was a “sound strategic decision.”

The Court also rejected Williams’ claim that counsel failed to adequately investigate an intoxication defense. The Court found that even had a psychopharmacologist been called as a witness by the defense, the jury could have concluded that the murders were purposeful, and therefore deserving of the death penalty.

Finally, the Court rejected the argument that counsel was ineffective for failing to object to burden-shifting jury instructions. The Court found that the jury was instructed to presume sanity, not intent.