Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
If the record refutes the factual allegations of a habeas corpus applicant or otherwise precludes habeas relief, a district court is not required to hold an evidentiary hearing.
Respondent Landrigan refused to allow his counsel to present the testimony of his ex-wife and birth mother as mitigating evidence at his sentencing hearing for a felony-murder conviction. He also interrupted as counsel tried to proffer other evidence, and he told the Arizona trial judge he did not wish to present any mitigating evidence and to "bring on" the death penalty. The court sentenced him to death, and the sentence was affirmed. The state postconviction court rejected Landrigan's claim that his counsel was ineffective for failing to conduct further investigation into mitigating circumstances, finding that he had instructed counsel at sentencing not to present any mitigating evidence at all. Landrigan then filed a federal habeas petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Exercising its discretion, the District Court refused to grant him an evidentiary hearing because he could not make out even a colorable ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim. The en banc Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that Landrigan's counsel's performance fell below the standard required by Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S. Ct. 2052, 80 L. Ed. 2d 674. The U.S. Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari.
Did the defendant make out a colorable ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim that would entitle him to an evidentiary hearing?
The U.S. Supreme Court held that it was well within the lower court's discretion to determine that, even with the benefit of an evidentiary hearing, defendant could not develop a factual record that would entitle him to habeas relief. According to the Court, the defendant could not show prejudice from any failure of counsel to investigate additional mitigating evidence, since the record indicated that defendant would have interrupted and refused to allow his counsel to present any such evidence. Further, the record also showed that defendant understood the consequences of refusing to allow evidence in mitigation, and the facts which defendant sought to prove in an evidentiary hearing constituted weak evidence in mitigation and would not have changed the result. Accordingly, the judgment of the appellate court was reversed, and the case was remanded for further proceedings.