State v. Taylor (1997)

In State v. Taylor, 947 P.2d 681 (Utah 1997), Taylor asserted that his trial counsel was ineffective because he misinformed Taylor about the use of the dismissed charges at the penalty phase. Id. at 685. The Court held that "evidence presented at the rule 23B hearing supports the finding that trial counsel correctly informed Taylor about the scope of the penalty phase." Id. The Court likewise noted that the plea transcript undermined Taylor's claim that he did not know that evidence of the dismissed charges would be admissible because the State informed the court and trial counsel during the plea hearing that it would seek to admit evidence of the dismissed charges. Id. The Court held that a defense attorney must "adequately investigate all potentially mitigating factors." Id. Nevertheless, we denied Taylor's claim for relief. We recognized that trial counsel "knew about Taylor's childhood psychological problems resulting from a facial scar, a learning disorder, and substance abuse in his family." Id. at 687. But we did not conclude that his decision not to introduce them was erroneous, noting that a defense attorney "does not have an obligation to introduce mitigating evidence if she believes after a thorough investigation that it will harm the case or if other strategic reasons for its omission exist." Id. Moreover, Taylor failed to identify any other mitigating information that might have been discovered by additional investigation. Id. The Court held that "a defendant must show not only that counsel failed to seek mitigating evidence, but also that some actually existed to be found." Id. Because Taylor failed to meet this burden, the Court denied his claim.