Rainwater Law Group

Effective Criminal Defense

Mitchell v. United States, No. 11-99003 [June 19, 2015]

Mitchell v. United States 

2255 claim that counsel was ineffective 1) in failing to assert an intoxication defense at the guilt phase; and 2) in inadequately investigating, and for choosing not to present evidence of mental health, history of substance abuse, and troubled upbringing in the penalty phase. The court held on the intoxication defense that counsel was not ineffective because the evidence failed to support the defense and it was a valid strategic decision to portray the co-defendant as the main malefactor as a defense and not intoxication. On the penalty phase, the Court found that counsel made a “more-than-adequate investigation of the possible mitigation.” It was not ineffective assistance to forgo a mental health, etc., defense at the penalty phase and “make the case that Mitchell had redeeming qualities that made his life worth saving, notwithstanding a rough start in life.” [Reinhardt dissents and he would find ineffective assistance in the penalty phase in presenting the “good guy” defense without a complete investigation and by failing to “give the jurors the opportunity to understand what made him the person he became before they voted to have him executed."

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