Andrus v. Texas

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Habeas Corpus
  • Date Filed: June 15, 2020
  • Case #: 18-9674
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Per Curiam
  • Full Text Opinion

In assessing whether a defendant has made a showing of prejudice, a reviewing court must consider “the totality of the available mitigation evidence - both that adduced at trial, and the evidence adduced in the habeas proceeding' - and 'reweig[h] it against the evidence in aggravation." Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 397-98 (2000).

The state of Texas sentenced petitioner to death. During the capital trial, that would ultimately sentence petitioner to death, petitioner’s counsel neglected to present mitigating evidence, but more importantly, did not even look for it. The trial court found trial counsel’s actions “constitutionally ineffective” and recommended “habeus relief in the form of a new punishment trial.” In a one-sentence denial, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals turned down the recommendation, concluding that the petitioner had not met the burden set forth in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). Strickland v. Washington requires a defendant to demonstrate, that their representation failed to reach “an objective standard of reasonableness” and, had the defendant been represented by adequate counsel there was a “reasonable probability that the result of the proceeding would have been different.”  Although trial counsel failed to look for or present mitigation evidence available at the time, revealing extreme childhood neglect, violence, and abuse, The United States Supreme Court held that it was unclear if the Court of Criminal Appeals considered prejudice correctly under Strickland. Certiorari GRANTED, judgment VACATED, and REMANDED for further consideration.

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