Cullen v. Pinholster
United States Supreme Court
563 U.S. ___ (2011)
Pinholster (defendant) was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. He then filed an ineffective assistance of counsel claim. Specifically, Pinholster claimed that his attorney’s investigation into mitigating factors was inadequate. The attorney, aware of the need to find mitigating factors and that Pinholster was psychotic and did not endear himself to the jury, interviewed Pinholster’s family and a psychiatrist to find mitigating factors. The attorney determined, however, to call only Pinholster’s mother during sentencing—employing a well-known “family-sympathy mitigation defense,” in which the attorney uses a close family member to garner sympathy from the jury. The district court denied Pinholster’s claim. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Thomas, J.)
Dissent (Sotomayor, J.)
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