Capital Defendant Not Entitled To New Trial When His Attorney Failed to Investigate a Psychological Report Suggesting a Possible Organic Brain Disorder

Walker v. True, 401 F.3d 574 (4th Cir. 2005), petition for reh'g en bane denied, 411 F.3d 467 (4th Cir. 2005)

A defendant charged with murder and facing a possible death sentence has a right to present mitigating evidence that weighs against the issuance of the death penalty.  This can include evidence of a mental illness or mental retardation that demonstrates the defendant's diminished capacity and reduced responsibility for the crime.  The U.S. Supreme Court in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), established that a defendant has a Sixth Amendment constitutional right to "effective assistance" of counsel in discovering and presenting this evidence during the sentencing phase, and the Court indicated in Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510 (2003), that this right required the defendant's attorney to diligently explore potentially relevant mental health evidence...

Found in DMHL Volume 25 Issue 1