Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Grossman: No habeas relief for Florida death row inmate

In Grossman v. McDonough, No. 05-11150 (Oct. 16, 2006), the Court affirmed the denial of habeas relief to a Florida inmate sentenced to death for a 1984 murder.
The Court rejected Grossman’s habeas challenge based on the admission of a co-conspirator’s inculpatory confession. Though recognizing, as did the Florida courts, that the evidence should not have been admitted under Bruton and its progeny, the Court held that the error was harmless in light of the overwhelming evidence of guilt.
The Court also rejected Grossman’s Brady claim. The Court found that even if there had been improper withholding of evidence by the prosecution, no Brady violation occurred because there was no possibility that the outcome of the proceeding would have been different.
Finally, the Court rejected the argument that defense counsel was ineffective at the penalty phase. The Court found that the many "post-hoc" affidavits of potential witnesses did not demonstrate deficient performance. Even if performance was ineffective, prejudice did not result. The Court also found no "golden rule" violation by the prosecutor, finding that the prosecutor merely described the circumstances of the victim’s death – circumstances which were "plainly relevant to whether the murder was henious, atrocious, or cruel."