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United States ex rel. Gilbert Rivera v. Gayle Franzen (Rivera I)
United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
594 F. Supp. 198 (1984)
Gilbert Rivera (plaintiff) filed a habeas suit in federal court against the director of the department of corrections, Gayle Franzen (defendant). Gilbert argued that his murder conviction was improper because his attorney, Lionel Livingston, provided ineffective assistance by failing to investigate or present an insanity defense. In Livingston’s 37-year career, Livingston handled hundreds of felony cases and had previously dealt with the insanity defense. Livingston was regularly referred cases by a law firm that would provide Livingston with an intake sheet and any other evidence obtained from clients upon referral. Gilbert’s father, Fabriciano Rivera, met with an attorney at the law firm and informed the attorney that Gilbert was in jail facing murder charges, had been represented at seven prior hearings by the public defender’s office, and that Gilbert’s next court date was in 36 days. Fabriciano did not inform the attorney about Gilbert’s mental health history. A few days later, Livingston obtained files from the law office and the public defender’s office. Livingston met with Gilbert at least 10 times, but at no point did Gilbert inform Livingston about Gilbert’s prior history with mental illness that included use of an antipsychotic drug, suicide attempts, and admissions at psychiatric hospitals. Livingston indicated that he would ask clients about psychological history when warranted but that because Gilbert appeared lucid, gave no indication of having a mental illness, and the files contained no information of Gilbert’s psychiatric history, Livingston did not inquire about Gilbert’s mental health, past hospitalizations, or his use of medications. Livingston never contacted any of Gilbert’s family members. Livingston did not present an insanity defense and only pursued self-defense, at Gilbert’s request.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Hart, J.)
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