Whatley v. Warden, Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Center, No. 13-12034 (11th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Petitioner, convicted of murder and sentenced to death, sought habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254, alleging that his lawyer provided ineffective assistance of counsel. The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's grant of relief based on petitioner's mitigation claim. The court held that the district court erred by deciding Strickland prejudice de novo without finding that the state court's decision was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts and with no basis to say that the state court unreasonably applied Strickland v. Washington. Furthermore, the district court failed to presume that the state courts' findings of fact were correct, which the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act requires. Finally, the court affirmed the denial of relief based on counsel's failure to object when petitioner testified before the jury during the penalty phase in shackles.