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Criminal Procedure Keyed to Miller
Charles Strickland v. David Washington
Citation:466 U.S. 668 (1984)
Washington (defendant) planned and committed three groups of crimes, including three murders, torture, kidnapping, assault, attempted murders, attempted extortion, and theft. After his accomplices were arrested, Washington surrendered to police and confessed to kidnapping and one of the murders. He was indicted and the court appointed an experienced criminal lawyer to represent him. Counsel actively pursued pretrial motions and discovery, but Washington went against his counsel’s advice by confessing to the other two murders and pleading guilty to all charges.
To prepare for the sentencing hearing, counsel spoke with Washington, his wife, and his mother. However, he did not seek out character witnesses nor did he request a psychiatric examination. This was to prevent the state from cross-examining Washington and putting on psychiatric evidence of its own. Counsel also successfully moved to exclude Washington’s rap sheet and did not prepare a presentence report in order to prevent the admission of Washington’s criminal history into evidence.
The trial court sentenced Washington to death on each of the three counts of murder. Washington sought collateral relief in state court, claiming ineffective assistance of counsel. Specifically, he argued that counsel was ineffective because he failed to move for a continuance to prepare for sentencing, to request a psychiatric report, to present meaningful arguments to the sentencing judge, and to investigate the medical examiner’s reports or cross-examine the medical experts.
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