In Rose v. McNeil, No. 10-11848 (March 4, 2011), the Court denied habeas relief to a Florida death row inmate sentenced to death for a 1982 murder, rejecting an argument that defense counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate and present mitigation evidence at the penalty phase of Rose’s trial.
The Court found it unnecessary to address counsel’s performance, because the ineffectiveness claim could be disposed by examining whether Rose suffered any “prejudice” as a result of the failure to introduce certain mitigation evidence.
The Court noted that much of the mitigation evidence Rose argued should have been presented at his trial would have been duplicative of evidence that was presented.
The non-duplicative evidence was “weak.” For example, the evidence of organic brain damage showed “minimal” damage. Evidence of Rose’s childhood was “double-edged” as it would have brought out Rose’s “violent” past.
In sum, the unpresented mitigation evidence did not undermine the Court’s confidence in the outcome.