Clark v. Commissioner, Alabama Department of Corrections, No. 19-11443 (11th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of habeas relief to petitioner, who was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Petitioner claims that since he was restrained without adequate and on-the-record justification by the district court, his trial counsel should have objected and that the failure to object constituted inadequate assistance.
The court concluded that, even if Martinez v. Ryan, 566 U.S. 1 (2012), could excuse petitioner's procedural default, he has failed to show actual prejudice under Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), and therefore has not presented a "substantial claim" that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance. In this case, given the strong evidence of his guilt, there is no reasonable probability that the jury seeing petitioner in shackles affected his conviction. Nor is there any reasonable probability that seeing petitioner in shackles affected the jury's decision to recommend the death penalty.