Oral argument: Nov. 4, 2009
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (Sept. 16, 2008)
HABEAS CORPUS, DEATH PENALTY, ANTI-TERRORISM AND EFFECTIVE DEATH PENALTY ACT, AEDPA, SIXTH AMENDMENT, INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL
In 1994, Petitioner Holly Wood was convicted of capital murder for sneaking into his ex-girlfriend’s bedroom and shooting her in the head with a shotgun. The judge imposed the death penalty, as recommended by the jury. Wood claims that, during sentencing, he did not receive effective assistance of counsel as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. He argues that defense counsel failed to further investigate or present evidence of his mental disabilities. According to Wood, the state court’s rejection of this argument was an unreasonable application of federal law. He also argues that the Eleventh Circuit’s standard of review in habeas corpus proceedings abdicates the court’s judicial review function under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”). The State of Alabama counters that the Eleventh Circuit properly deferred to the reasonable determinations of the state courts as required by the AEDPA. This decision will better define the appropriate level of deference due to state court factual determinations during federal habeas corpus proceedings.