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Name: Avila v. Galaza
Case #: 01-55149
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 07/22/2002
Subsequent History: None

Trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to investigate and to argue that defendant’s brother was the shooter in an attempted murder case. The brother had testified in state habeas proceedings, without immunity or the promise of leniency, that he was the shooter. Trial counsel has a duty to make reasonable investigations under Strickland. A lawyer who fails to adequately investigate, and to introduce into evidence, evidence that demonstrates his client’s factual innocence, or that raises sufficient doubt as to that question so as to undermine confidence in the verdict, renders a deficient performance. Here, witnesses to the shooting were uncooperative, however, there was clear and convincing evidence that it was counsel’s inadequate pretrial investigation, not the witnesses’ lack of cooperation, that kept this evidence out of the courtroom at trial. In fact, the referee found that “hardly any [pre-trial investigation] had been done.”