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Cade v. Haley - 222 F.3d 1298 (11th Cir. 2000)


Procedural default may be excused, even without cause and prejudice, when a petitioner shows by clear and convincing evidence that, but for a constitutional error, no reasonable juror would have found the petitioner eligible for the death penalty under the applicable state law, and construes such demonstrations as showing actual innocence of the death penalty, such that a miscarriage of justice will result if the federal habeas court refuses to consider the constitutional error. Actual innocence may be proven not only through a demonstration of innocence of the capital crime itself but also through a showing that there was no aggravating circumstance or that some other condition of eligibility under state law had not been met.


Cade was originally convicted and sentenced to death in 1978. His conviction was vacated by the United States Supreme Court because at the time the Alabama death-sentencing procedure did not comply with the Eighth Amendment. After Alabama changed that procedure, Cade was again tried, convicted, and sentenced to death in 1982. Cade's conviction is based on events that took place in 1977. Cade shot the sheriff of Geneva County, Alabama three times when the latter was responding to a domestic disturbance call reporting that Cade was threatening his girlfriend and her sister. The jury rejected Cade's voluntary-intoxication defense, found him guilty, and recommended the death penalty. The trial judge, after holding a bench hearing and reviewing a presentence investigation report (PSI), sentenced Cade to death.

Cade appealed the district court's denial of habeas corpus relief on his 28 U.S.C.S. § 2254 petition, contending ineffective assistance of counsel at sentencing. Cade also argued that the evidence substantiating the aggravating factors supporting his sentence had been insufficient.


Did the district court err in denying Cade his request for federal habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C.S. § 2254?




The court affirmed the district court's denial of habeas corpus relief. The court found that Cade had not shown prejudice stemming from his trial counsel's failure to call expert and lay witnesses at the sentencing phase of his trial. The court reasoned that Cade had not overcome either the inconsistencies in the expert opinions at issue or the double-edged quality of the lay testimony offered to establish prejudice. The court added that Cade was not entitled to relief on his insufficient-treatment-of-mitigators claims because he could not show the "actual innocence" required in the face of his conceded procedural default. Accordingly the district court's denial of Cade's request for habeas corpus relief was affirmed.

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