Court Cases By Federal

Williams v. Calderon

52 F. 3d 1465 (9th Cir. 1995)
Williams was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. In this habeas corpus action, he argued that he had been denied the effective assistance of counsel because at the penalty phase his attorney had failed to present to the jury evidence that Williams suffered from FAS.

The attorney did, however, introduce other mitigating evidence, including Williams' premature birth, epilepsy, head injuries, voluntary psychiatric commitment, lack of contact with his natural father, and parental abuse. (52 F. 3d at 1471). It is unclear if the attorney knew that Williams might have FAS, but the attorney did know (and introduce evidence) that Williams' mother was an alcoholic.

The court of appeals did not decide whether the attorney acted improperly in failing to develop or provide to the jury evidence of FAS. Instead, the court simply concluded that there was no reasonable probability that the jury would have voted for a lesser sentence. The court's decision was apparently influenced both by the fact that the jury was not swayed by the mitigating evidence that had been introduced, and by the nature of the crimes. (52 F. 3d at 1472).