Court Cases By Federal

Silva v. Woodford
279 F. 3d 825 (9th Cir. 2002)

Silva was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. There were two accomplices, one of whom made a deal with prosecutors and got eleven years, and the other of whom was sentenced to life imprisonment (with no bar to parole).

In this habeas corpus action, Silva argued that his attorney did not provide effective representation at the penalty phase. The attorney presented no evidence regarding Silva's background or mental state. In support of his attack on the death sentence, Silva offered evidence suggesting that there was a wide range of mitigating information that might have been investigated and introduced, including the possibility that he had FAS. 279 F. 3d at 847 n. 17. The court concluded that Silva was denied the effective assistance of counsel because his attorney had failed even to investigate "Silva's background--including his family, criminal, substance abuse, and mental health history." 279 F. 3d at 846.

The court also concluded that it was reasonably likely that an effective defense at the penalty phase would have resulted in a lesser sentence. 279 F. 3d at 849-50.