Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wood: No Deficient Performance on Mental Deficiency Evidence

In Wood v. Hall, No. 06-16412 (Sept. 16, 2008) (2-1, Barkett, J., dissenting), the Court reversed the grant of habeas relief to an Alabama inmate sentenced to death for a 1993 murder.
The district court granted habeas relief based on counsel’s ineffective assistance in failing to put on evidence, during the sentencing phase, of the defendant’s diminished mental capacity.
Reversing, the district court noted that trial counsel had presented some mitigating evidence, and were entitled to deference in not presented further mitigating evidence in light of the downside of this evidence, e.g. a doctor’s evaluation concluded that despite Wood’s "borderline intellectual functioning," he "still had a complete memory of his behavior at the time of the murder." The Court added that even if counsel had been deficient, there was no prejudice to Wood, given evidence of Wood’s "adaptive functioning."