Ex parte Emanuel Aaron Gissendanner, Jr.Annotate this Case
The Alabama Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case to review the Court of Criminal Appeals' opinion reversing in part the Dale Circuit Court's order granting Emanuel Gissendanner, Jr. a new trial based on ineffective assistance of counsel and a violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). In 2001, Gissendanner was charged with three counts of capital murder in the death of Margaret Snellgrove: murder during a kidnapping in the first degree; murder during a robbery in the first degree; and murder during a rape. A separate indictment charged Gissendanner with possessing or uttering a forged check drawn on Snellgrove's bank account. He was convicted of two counts of capital murder -- murder during the course of a robbery and murder during the course of a kidnapping -- and of possession of a forged instrument. The jury recommended by a vote of 10-2 that he be sentenced to death on the capital-murder convictions. The Supreme Court determined the Court of Criminal Appeals applied the wrong standard of review to the disputed facts and failed to give considerable weight to the finding of prejudicial ineffective assistance of counsel by Judge Quattlebaum, the original trial judge who also presided over the Rule 32 proceedings. "Judge Quattlebaum did not exceed his discretion in ordering a new trial based on defense counsel's prejudicially ineffective pretrial investigation." Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals to the extent it reversed Judge Quattlebaum's order granting Gissendanner's petition for postconviction relief, and the Court directed the trial court to take the necessary action to reinstate Judge Quattlebaum's order granting Gissendanner a new trial. In light of this holding, the Court pretermitted discussion of the remaining issues raised in Gissendanner's petition.