Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Gissendaner: Counsel not ineffective

In Gissendaner v. Seaboldt, No. 12-13569 (Nov. 19, 2013), the Court denied habeas relief to a Georgia inmate sentenced to death for conspiring with her lover in 1998 to murder her husband. The Court rejected the argument that counsel was ineffective during plea negotiations, pointing out that Gissendaner herself turned down the State’s offer of a minimum 25-year sentence. The Court also rejected a Brady claim, agreeing with the state habeas court that the undisclosed notes of a witness’s statements would not have changed the outcome. Finally, the Court rejected the argument that counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate Gissendane’s alleged history of sexual abuse, noting counsel’s thorough investigation, and the unsubstantiated nature of the abuse claim. The Court also discounted the recent findings of mental health professionals, noting that Gissendaner had no history of psychiatric treatment, and the fact that they were “unpersuasive.”