Rainwater Law Group

Effective Criminal Defense

Weeden v. Johnson, No. 14-17366 [April 21, 2017]

Weeden v. Johnson

Weeden claimed her trial counsel provided ineffective assistance of counsel for refusing to investigate psychological testimony to support her mental state defense and instead called four character witnesses. Her claim was rejected in state court as being a “reasonable strategic decision.” Here, counsel refused to do an evaluation as he was afriad that the prosecution could use it against him. The Court found that “[c]ounsel cannot justify a failure to investigate simply be invoking strategy.” “Under Strickland, counsel’s investigation must determine trial strategy, not the other way around. (citations omitted) Weeden’s counsel could not reasonably conclude that obtaining a psychological examination would conflict with his trial strategy without first knowing what such an examination would reveal.” Further, merely obtaining a report does not require that it be disclosed contrary to counsel’s position. Because Weeden mental condition was this issue here counsel should have investigated it. “Counsel’s performance was deficient because he failed to investigate, a failure highlignted by his later unreasonable justification for it.” The state court’s finding to the contrary was an unreasonable application of clearly established Supreme Court law. The Court conclude that the lack of testimony, as presented to the Court in an affidavit, if presented to the jury “the propability of a different result is ‘sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome.’” Reversed and remanded to grant the writ unless Weeden is timely retried.

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