Norris v. Davis, No. 15-70010 (5th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Petitioner, a death row inmate convicted of capital murder, was granted habeas relief based on the district court's finding that the jury instructions at the sentencing phase of petitioner's trial violated his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights under Penry v. Lynaugh, by not allowing the jury to give full effect to petitioner's mitigating evidence. The court concluded that the jury instructions at the sentencing phase of petitioner's trial did not adequately allow the jury to consider his mitigating evidence of good character and affirmed the district court's grant of habeas relief. In this case, petitioner proffered evidence of general good character at the sentencing phase that showed he was active at church, had been a good student, was a good father to his daughter, and had maintained regular employment. The court denied petitioner's application for a certificate of appealability (COA) to appeal the denial of his habeas claims that challenge his conviction. The court concluded that petitioner is not entitled to a COA on any of his ineffective-assistance claims because reasonable jurists would not debate the district court’s determinations that petitioner failed to established error under 28 U.S.C. 2254(d)’s standard for habeas relief and that, regardless, petitioner cannot show prejudice under Strickland v. Washington in light of the overwhelming evidence of his guilt.