Friday, May 13, 2011

Judge Marcus reverses death penalty in 100-page opinion

Since Blogger has been down, I've had some time to catch up on 11th Circuit opinions, even these really long ones. Here's the intro from Ferrell v. Georgia (which was joined by Judges Tjoflat and Black):

After thorough review of this ample record, we are compelled to reverse in part the judgment of the district court. We hold that the state court’s rejection of Ferrell’s ineffective-assistance claims was an unreasonable application of Strickland v. Washington, and, accordingly, we reverse the district court’s denial of habeas relief from Ferrell’s death sentence. Neither the jury nor the sentencing judge was ever told, because defense counsel never discovered that Ferrell suffers from extensive, disabling mental health problems and diseases including organic brain damage to the frontal lobe, bipolar disorder, and temporal lobe epilepsy. Nor
did they learn that the defendant had attempted suicide at age eleven, or that because of these mental health issues, Ferrell exhibits increased impulsivity and
decreased sound judgment; that his conduct was not entirely volitional; or that his
judgment and mental flexibility were significantly impaired by organic brain damage. Nor, finally were they ever told that Ferrell’s father was physically abusive to his children, especially to Ferrell, waking them in the middle of the night to beat them (sometimes after stripping them naked) with razor strops, fan belts, and old used belts; that the family was repeatedly evicted from their homes and hungry, and lived in fear of those to whom the father owed gambling debts; or that Ferrell’s mother suffered from clinical depression, suicidal ideations, rage blackouts, and urges to physically injure her children.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

great post, a service to the legal community.