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Name: Bell v. Cone
Case #: 01-400
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 05/28/2002
Subsequent History: Cross-cites: 122 S.Ct. 1843; 152 L.Ed.2d 914; 8/5/02 - rehrg. denied
Summary

At penalty phase, defense counsel called the jury’s attention to mitigating evidence already before the jury, in the form of defendant’s substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder. However, he did not call any witnesses of his own, but cross-examined prosecution ones. After the prosecution gave a “low-key” closing, he waived closing argument, which prevented the lead prosecutor, an effective advocate, from arguing in rebuttal. The standard used to determine a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel in this post-capital-appeal habeas petition was that established in Strickland v. Washington (1984) 466 U.S. 668, requiring a showing of both a performance shortcoming by the attorney and its resulting prejudice. The court rejected the argument that under United States v. Cronic (1984) 466 U.S. 648, prejudice should be presumed. Counsel did not “entirely fail to subject the prosecution’s case to meaningful adversarial testing.”