Trial Lawyer's Failure to Unearth Mitigating Evidence During Sentencing

In Hildwin v. Dugger, 654 So. 2d 107, 109 (Fla. 1995), the Supreme Court of Florida held that Hildwin demonstrated both Strickland deficiency and prejudice where trial counsel "failed to unearth a large amount of mitigating evidence which could have been presented at sentencing." The Court emphasized that at his postconviction evidentiary hearing, the defendant "presented an abundance of mitigating evidence which his trial counsel could have presented at sentencing." Id. at 110. Hildwin presented two mental health experts who testified that two statutory mitigating circumstances existed: (1) Hildwin committed the murder under influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance; (2) Hildwin's capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of law was substantially impaired. Both experts also testified that they recognized several nonstatutory mitigators. Id.