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Name: Mayfield v. Calderon
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 10/13/2000
Subsequent History: None

The court affirmed an order denying habeas corpus relief to a state prisoner challenging his death sentence on the grounds that he received ineffective assistance of counsel in the penalty phase of the jury trial. Counsel called only one witness at the penalty phase, a psychologist, who testified to the poor family conditions in which the defendant was raised, his juvenile diabetes for which he was often hopitalized, his immaturity, “mild organicity,” and his occasional PCP use. At the state court hearing on the petition, the referee found that counsel’s investigation was scanty. Various family members could have added to the testimony on poor family life, and other expert witnesses were not contacted on the effects of PCP and diabetes on mental state. But the California Supreme Court and the federal district court found counsel’s lack of diligence harmless in light of the overwhelming aggravating circumstances. The missed evidence was not compelling or exculpatory. Much of it would have been cumulative to the defense expert’s testimony. Also, the other witnesses who were not contacted may have offered negative as well as favorable testimony.