Successful Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Cases

In Chambers v. Armontrout, 907 F.2d 825 (8th Cir. 1990), the court determined that counsel was ineffective for failing to contact a witness who would have provided defendant's "only possible, indeed, his only reasonable, defense to the death penalty" and that this prejudiced the defendant. Id. at 830-32. In Mauldin v. Wainwright, 723 F.2d 799 (11th Cir. 1984), the court found that counsel was ineffective for failing to conduct a reasonable investigation into the defense's sole theory of the case, that defendant suffered from insanity due to alcohol abuse. Id. at 800. Even though defendant had been hospitalized for the addiction, counsel did not consult a mental health expert on the issue, instead choosing to rely on the statements of the defendant, his wife, and his mother. Id. In Loyd v. Whitley, 977 F.2d 149 (5th Cir. 1992), the court noted that even though the defendant's sanity was a "critical issue," only minimal attempts were made to procure independent evidence on the issue. Id. at 156-57. Further, the court determined that no strategic decision was made by the attorneys as to the sanity issue and that this failure prejudiced defendant. Id. at 157-58, 160. In Moore v. Johnson, 194 F.3d 586 (5th Cir. 1999), the court held that counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate the upbringing and background of the defendant and that such failure prejudiced the defendant. Id. at 617, 621. In Collier v. Turpin, 177 F.3d 1184 (11th Cir. 1999), the court determined that counsel was ineffective for portraying only a "hollow shell" of the defendant in the sentencing phase instead of developing evidence that would have shown positive aspects of defendant's life. Those positive aspects would have included that he was a hard-working family man who suffered from diabetes and was unemployed. Defense counsel only explored issues of defendant's truth and veracity, indicating that counsel knew little of the defendant. Id. at 1201-02.