Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Friday, August 03, 2012

Kormondy: No Conflict of Interest by Trial Counsel

In Kormondy v. Sec., Fla. Dep’t of Corrections, No. 11-15001 (July 31, 2012), the Court affirmed the denial of habeas relief to a Florida inmate sentenced to death for a July 1993 murder.
The Court rejected the argument that Kormondy’s trial lawyer should have withdrawn because she had been a high school classmate of the murder victim, finding no evidence that the lawyer was "actively representing conflicting interests."
The Court also rejected the argument that, at the penalty phase, counsel was ineffective for failing to put on evidence of the defendant’s impoverished upbringing and years of alcohol and drug abuse, in addition to evidence that he was not the "shooter." The Court noted that the aggravating factors were not weak (the murder victim’s wife was raped as he was killed), and evidence of drug addition is a "two-edged" sword.
Finally, the trial court did not violate Kormondy’s constitutional rights when it sustained a prosecution objection to a question of the wife of the murder victim. The Court took judicial notice of the proposition that courts uniformly require a cross-examiner to put a question to the witness and obtain an answer before confronting the witness with a previous inconsistent answer. This did not occur at Kormondy’s trial.