Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ponticelli: Insufficient evidence of ineffectiveness

In Ponticelli v. Sec., Florida Dep’t of Corrections, No. 11-11966 (Aug. 16, 2012), the Court (2-1) affirmed the denial of habeas relief to a Florida inmate sentenced to death for a 1987 murder.
The Court found that the Florida Supreme Court did not unreasonably reject Ponticelli’s claim that his counsel’s deficient performance during the penalty phase of his state trial did not prejudice him. The Court agreed that any new mental health testimony would have been "cumulative" to testimony the jury heard. The Court also agreed that evidence of cocaine abuse would have done more harm than good, as the state could have elicited testimony that Ponticelli had a history of drug abuse, but had quit on one occasion for an extended period of time, only to return to a habit he knew was evil.