Daire v. Lattimore

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Habeas Corpus
  • Date Filed: 03-19-2015
  • Case #: 12-55667
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Benavides for the Court; Circuit Judges Wardlaw and Clifton
  • Full Text Opinion

When a defendant brings an ineffective assistance of counsel claim alleging an evidentiary omission, the court must consider all the relevant evidence that could have been presented, but cannot second-guess sound trial strategy.

Following a burglary conviction, Sophia Daire received a forty-year sentence due to previous burglary convictions that brought her within California’s “three strikes” recidivism sentencing enhancements. She subsequently filed a 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas corpus petition arguing that she received ineffective assistance of counsel because her attorney did not present evidence regarding her mental health during trial. However, the California Superior Court denied her petition. Daire proceeded to file another petition in the Central District of California, but again was denied. The Ninth Circuit reviewed the district court’s denial of her petition. The panel explained that when evaluating allegations about evidentiary omissions, regarding ineffective assistance of counsel, the court must consider “all the relevant evidence.” This evidence includes what would have been reveled upon submission. However, the panel added that the law does not allow for the court to second-guess trial strategy used by an attorney. Daire’s counsel never mentioned her mental illness, but counsel did mention other struggles and unfortunate events in Daire’s background. Since Daire’s counsel chose to emphasize other mitigating factors, downplaying her mental illness, the court must view that as a trial strategy. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that Daire’s counsel met her required constitutional obligations, and Daire was not prejudiced as a result of counsel not presenting evidence regarding her mental health. AFFIRMED.

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