U.S. Supreme Court Grants Certiorari Petition in Death Penalty Case
On May 18, 2009, the United States Supreme Court granted Kaye Scholer's petition for certiorari in Holly Wood v. Allen, No. 08-9156, a pro bono case involving a mentally impaired death row inmate in Alabama, whom the firm has represented since 1999. The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama vacated the death sentence on the basis of ineffective assistance of Wood's counsel for failing to present mitigation evidence of Wood's mental impairment during the sentencing phase of trial. A divided panel of the 11th Circuit reversed the district court's ruling, finding that the state court's factual determination that counsel made a strategic decision to forgo the presentation of such evidence was reasonable and unrebutted by clear and convincing evidence. The issues for the Court's review concern the proper standard of review and level of deference applied to state court factual determinations under AEDPA, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.
The Kaye Scholer team includes Kerry Alan Scanlon (Partner, Litigation, Washington Office), David O. Bickart (Retired Partner, Washington Office), Robert Grass (Counsel, Litigation, New York Office), and Nathan Cohen (Associate, Litigation, New York Office).