Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Gilliam: No Brady violation for death row inmate

In Gilliam v. Sec. Dep’t of Corrections, No. 05-16638 (March 6, 2007), the Court affirmed the denial of habeas relief to a Florida inmate sentenced to death for a 1982 murder.
The Court rejected the argument that the Florida state court erred in not finding a Brady violation in the State’s failure to disclose a police report that indicated that the victim was a prostitute. The Court found that this evidence would not have changed the evaluation of whether the defendant lacked the mental state to commit the murder.
The Court also rejected an ineffective assistance of counsel claim based on his counsel’s opening the door to the defendant’s prior rape conviction. The Court declined to resolve whether this was deficient performance, finding that in any event it did not sufficiently compromise the defense.
The Court finally found nothing unreasonable in the Florida courts’ rejection of the argument that counsel was ineffective at the penalty phase, noting, for example, that counsel could "focus on few points in closing" or even forego a closing argument altogether – and counsel did argue that life imprisonment would suffice as punishment, an argument the jury and the sentencing judge did not adopt.