In another 5-to-4 death penalty decision, the Supreme Court today ruled against a Arizona death row inmate who directed his lawyer not to present evidence that could spare him, then argued on appeal that the attorney was ineffective, reports the Associated Press. The high court voided a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision granting twice-convicted killer Jeffrey Landrigan a new hearing.
The 9th Circuit should have deferred to lower court rulings against Landrigan, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the majority. Landrigan, sentenced to death in 1990, argued that he didn’t get a chance to present evidence about his tormented childhood that could have changed the outcome. He had said at trial he didn’t want to introduce the evidence. At sentencing, he interrupted his lawyer’s efforts to present evidence that showed him in a more positive light. Later, he argued that if his lawyer had explained better, he would have agreed to present evidence of his fetal alcohol syndrome and a history of violence in his biological family.