Reversal of Capital Conviction and Death Sentence Because Counsel Failed to Investigate Defendant's Mental Health and Drug Abuse Problems Not Disturbed

Jennings v. Woodford, 290 F.3d 1006 (9th Cir. 2002), cert. denied, Woodford v. Jennings, 123 S. Ct. 2638 (2003); 71(50) U.S. Law Week 3795 (July 1, 2003)

Perhaps reflecting its decision in Wiggins (described above), the Supreme Court declined to review a Ninth Circuit ruling that overturned a capital conviction and imposition of the death penalty for ineffective assistance of counsel because defendant's attorney failed to discover and present easily available evidence of the defendant's mental health and drug abuse problems despite knowing that the defendant had such problems.  The defendant was a habitual, heavy methamphetamine user, had attempted suicide, was described by a psychiatrist as schizophrenic, had a long history of injuring himself and pouring liquids in the resulting wounds causing gangrene, and had been involuntarily committed for psychiatric evaluation because he appeared catatonic. In addition, a number of individuals told the attorney they thought something was "seriously wrong" with the defendant...

Found in DMHL Volume 23 Issue 1