479 U.S. 891 (1986)

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U.S. Supreme Court

DUFOUR v. MISSISSIPPI , 479 U.S. 891 (1986)

479 U.S. 891

No. 85-6889 Supreme Court of the United States October 14, 1986

On petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of Mississippi.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Justice BRENNAN, dissenting.

Adhering to my view that the death penalty is in all circumstances cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 227, 2950, 49 L. Ed.2d 859 (1976), I would grant certiorari and vacate the death sentence in this case.

Justice MARSHALL, dissenting from denial of certiorari.

Adhering to my view that the death penalty is under all circumstances cruel and unusual punishment forbidden by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, I would vacate the judgment of the Supreme Court of Mississippi insofar as it left undisturbed the death sentence imposed in this case. Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 231, 2973, 49 L. Ed.2d 859 (1976) (MARSHALL, J., dissenting). However, even if I believed that the death penalty could be imposed constitutionally under certain circumstances, I nevertheless would grant certiorari because this petition presents an important issue concerning the application of this Court's decision in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 80 L. Ed.2d 674 (1984).

Petitioner Donald Dufour was convicted of capital murder occurring in the course of a robbery. His appointed counsel presented no evidence in mitigation of sentence at the penalty phase of his trial. The jury found that the State had established two aggravating circumstances and recommended a sentence of death. The State Supreme Court affirmed petitioner's conviction and death sentence. Dufour v. State, 453 So.2d 337 (Miss.1984). This Court denied certiorari. Dufour v. Mississippi, ___ U.S. ___ (1985). Petitioner then instituted a post-conviction proceeding to vacate judgment and sentence in the State trial court, contending that he

Page 479 U.S. 891 , 892

had received ineffective assistance of counsel in that his appointed trial counsel had failed to request appointment of a psychiatrist to assist the defense in developing psychological evidence to be submitted to the jury in mitigation of sentence. The trial court summarily denied this and petitioner's other claims, and the State Supreme Court affirmed. Dufour v. State, 483 So.2d 307 (Miss.1985).

It appears that in his post-conviction application, petitioner again requested appointment of a psychiatrist to assist counsel in showing that petitioner's defense at the penalty phase of his trial was prejudiced by the absence of psychological evidence. He submitted the affidavit of Dr. Stanley, the court-appointed psychiatrist who had previously examined him for the purpose of determining his competency to stand trial. Dr. Stanley stated that the limited examination he had conducted for purposes of determining competency bore no relation to the more extensive and qualitatively different investigation required to present useful assistance to trial counsel on the subject of mitigation. Pet. for Cert. 7. Both the trial court and State Supreme Court denied relief without ruling on petitioner's renewed request for the appointment of a psychiatrist; no evidentiary hearing was held on petitioner's claim of ineffective assistance. The State Supreme Court affirmed the denial of relief, stating that:

    "Petitioner claims that defense counsel failed to make application to the trial court for funds to conduct a psychological evaluation of petitioner for the purpose of determining whether mitigating circumstances existed. Further, that he had no expert assistance because counsel did not request it. However, petitioner was examined pursuant to a court order. The professionals were not people selected by the State, but by the trial court. Petitioner has failed to present facts which show there existed mitigating circumstances of a psychological nature, which could have been presented by Dr. Stanley. It is not shown that such an examination would have produced the claimed results, nor has prejudice been shown." Dufour v. State, supra, at 308.


In Strickland, supra, this Court established a two-part standard for evaluating claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. "First, the defendant must show that counsel's performance was deficient. This requires showing that counsel made errors so serious that counsel was not functioning as the 'counsel' guaranteed [479 U.S. 891 , 893]

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