United States v. Davis, No. 19-70010 (5th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Defendant was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. Defendant, a former police officer, used his position and the police department's resources to orchestrate a murder.
The Fifth Circuit denied defendant a certificate of appealability (COA) on his claim that he was deprived of his constitutional right to the effective assistance of counsel at his 1996 guilt-phase trial. The court held that no reasonable jurist could debate that defendant suffered no prejudice. The court also denied defendant a COA on his claim that his Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial was compromised by the adverse impact of external influences and misconduct during his 1996 guilt-phase trial. In this case, defendant failed to point to any external influences in this COA briefing. Finally, the court denied defendant a COA on his claims that the government withheld key evidence in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), because the Brady claims had no evidentiary basis and were merely defendant's conclusions and speculations. Because the court cannot issue a COA, the court has no power to say anything about defendant's request for an evidentiary hearing.