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Home / Opinions / Courts / 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals / Criminal Law: Habeas Corpus-Ineffective Assistance of Counsel-Death Penalty

Criminal Law: Habeas Corpus-Ineffective Assistance of Counsel-Death Penalty

Petitioner appealed the denial of his habeas petition, alleging that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate and present mental health evidence and for giving the jury an expert report that included information that petitioner was on death row, and arguing that he was categorically exempt from the death penalty.

Where petitioner’s counsel received no recommendation that petitioner be examined for PTSD, where there was no evidence petitioner’s mother drank during pregnancy to inflict fetal-alcohol syndrome on petitioner, and where no consulted expert concluded that petitioner was brain-damaged, counsel was not ineffective for failing to present mental health evidence.

Kobes, J., dissenting:  In my view, counsel’s failure to investigate Anderson’s fetal-alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) was unreasonable and prejudicial.  By the time of Anderson’s second penalty-phase trial in 2005, it was common practice for the capital bar to investigate FASD. Anderson’s attorneys failed to do so despite significant evidence of his mother’s alcohol abuse. This failure likely prejudiced Anderson because evidence of FASD is more powerful than any of the mitigating evidence presented at his resentencing.”

Judgment is affirmed.

Anderson v. Kelley (MLW No. 73919/Case No. 17-2456 – 25 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Gruender, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, Marshall, J. (John Charles Williams, AFPD, of Little Rock, AR for appellant) (Jacob Helderman Jones, AAG, of Little Rock, AR for appellee)