Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Windom: Counsel not ineffective in death penalty phase

In Windom v. Sec. Dep’t of Corrections, No. 07-15876 (Aug. 10, 2009), the Court affirmed the denial of habeas relief to a Florida inmate sentenced to death for three murders in 1992.
The Court found that even assuming Windom’s counsel’s limited investigation into Wiondom’s background and mental health constituted deficient performance, Windom was not prejudiced thereby. The evidence of Windom’s background and mental health would not have affected the outcome, because of overwhelming evidence of premeditation, and the relative weakness of the conclusions of mental health experts.
The Court also rejected an ineffective challenge to counsel’s opening and closing arguments. Counsel argued for the existence of the statutory mitigating circumstances of extreme mental or emotional disturbance. Counsel’s candor about the crimes did not prejudice Windom, in light of the strength of the State’s case for death.