Ledford v. Warden, Georgia Diagnostic Prison, No. 19-11090 (11th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of federal habeas corpus relief. Petitioner was sentenced to death for malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery, aggravated sodomy, kidnapping with bodily injury, and aggravated assault.
The court held that petitioner is not entitled to habeas relief based on the prosecution's use of peremptory strikes where the Georgia Supreme Court correctly applied the well-established burden-shifting framework, noting that the statistical disparities to which petitioner pointed were insufficient to establish a prima facie case absent "additional facts which may give rise to an inference of discriminatory purpose." The court rejected petitioner's claim of ineffective assistance of counsel during the penalty phase of trial and declined to disturb the state habeas court's conclusion that trial counsel's performance was not deficient. The court also held that the district court did not err in denying petitioner's claim of juror misconduct where he failed to exhaust, and thus has procedurally defaulted, his only argument for overcoming the original procedural default. Finally, for similar reasons, the court affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's request for an evidentiary hearing.