Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Pooler: No ineffectiveness of counsel

In Pooler v. Sec., Fla. Dep’t of Corrections, No. 12-12059 (Dec. 17, 2012), the Court affirmed the denial of habeas relief to a Florida inmate sentenced to death for a 1995 murder.

The Court rejected the argument that defense counsel was ineffective during the penalty phase of the case by failing to locate records that would show Pooler’s background. The Court noted the efforts counsel made, and the justifiable reliance on the information Pooler himself furnished.

The Court also found no ineffective assistance in counsel’s reliance on only two mental health experts, or the failure to highlight Pooler’s alcohol use on the day of the murder, which “may not have been mitigating in the jury’s eyes, and may well have opened the door not only to evidence of Pooler’s cavorting with a prostitute hours before he brutally killed his ex-girlfriend, but also to the abundant evidence of Pooler’s bad temper and propensity to violence when he was drunk.”

The Court also rejected Pooler’s attempt to rely on the Supreme Court’s decision in Porter v. McCollum, finding the ineffectiveness of counsel in that case distinguishable.