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Thread: Lawrence Joseph Jefferson - Georgia Death Row

  1. #1
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    Lawrence Joseph Jefferson - Georgia Death Row




    Facts of the Crime:

    Was sentenced to death in March 1986 in Cobb County for the robbery and killing of his construction job supervisor Edward Taulbee, 37. On May 1, 1985, they went fishing at Lake Allatoona. Later, Mr. Jefferson arrived home in the victim's vehicle and told a neighbor, "My fat little buddy is dead." Mr. Taulbee's body was found the next day; he had been beaten with a stick and then his skull was crushed with a 40-pound tree trunk. In 1979, Mr. Jefferson had pleaded guilty in Louisville to armed robbery and burglary.

  2. #2
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    June 13, 2009

    Death penalty reinstated in beating death

    The federal appeals court on Friday reinstated the death sentence against a Marietta man for beating his supervisor to death with a tree trunk near Lake Allatoona in 1985.

    In a 2-1 decision, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta overturned a federal judge’s ruling that found Lawrence Joseph Jefferson’s lawyers provided ineffective legal assistance at trial.

    In 1986, a Cobb County jury sentenced Jefferson to death for killing and robbing 37-year-old Edward Taulbee, his drinking buddy and his boss at a construction site. After bludgeoning Taulbee to death, Jefferson took his wallet and car.

    Ed Carnes, an 11th Circuit judge, issued a strong dissent in a rare vote to overturn a death sentence. He wrote that Jefferson’s lawyers should have had their client examined for neurological damage that occurred when Jefferson’s head was run over by a car when he was 2 years old.

    If so, Carnes wrote, the jury would have heard that the injury left Jefferson with an abnormally enlarged skull and brain damage that had a profound and lifelong impact on his behavior, including learning disabilities, diminished impulse control and intermittent outbursts of rage. Jurors would have heard the brain damage deprived Jefferson of “a normal ability to premeditate, deliberate, distinguish right from wrong and act rationally,” Carnes wrote.

    As to whether there was a reasonable probability that a juror would have voted differently having heard such evidence, the “question is not even close to being close,” Carnes wrote.

    Judge Stanley Marcus, who wrote the majority opinion, noted that Jefferson’s lawyers never saw any evidence that Jefferson was brain damaged. His lawyers also thoroughly investigated the guilty-innocence phase of the case and presented a residual doubt defense, which was not unreasonable, said Marcus, joined by Judge Gerald Tjoflat.

    Lawrence’s lawyers “performed an investigation into Jefferson’s background and mental health and obtained an expert on this issue before intentionally abandoning the defense in favor of others that seemed more promising,” the ruling said.

    http://www.ajc.com/services/content/...type=ynews_rss

    Opinion is here:

    http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/ops/200712502.pdf

  3. #3
    Senior Member CnCP Legend JLR's Avatar
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    May 24, 2010

    Justices Give Death Row Inmate Second Chance

    By NICK DIVITO
    Courthouse News

    The Supreme Court has given a death row inmate a chance to state his claim of ineffective counsel after his lawyers failed to raise claims of childhood brain damage as a factor during sentencing.

    Lawrence Jefferson, who was sentenced to death for beating a co-worker to death during a fishing trip, had claimed unsuccessfully that his lawyers were "constitutionally inadequate" because they failed to investigate his mother's testimony that Jefferson's head was ran over by a car when he was 2 years old.

    Doctors testified that Jefferson has "permanent brain damage" that "causes abnormal behavior" over which he "has no substantially limited control," the justices wrote.

    According to the ruling, Jefferson's condition causes emotional dullness, restless or aggressive characteristics, impulsiveness and outbursts of rage.

    Experts testified during trial that Jefferson is neither "psychotic nor retarded," but that he has "severe cognitive disabilities" that alter his "ability to plan and coordinate his actions, to be aware of the consequences of his behavior, and to engage in premeditated or intentional acts."

    A psychologist recommended testing to rule out brain damage. But his attorneys, despite having police reports and hospital records recounting the head injury, did not have him tested.

    His attorneys argued that they didn't pursue the testing because the doctor who issued the formal report told them that further investigation "may be a waste of time because the rest of [his] report had said that [Jefferson] was non-psychotic," according to the ruling.

    After a back-and-forth in various courts, Jefferson appealed to the Supreme Court, asking it to review his claim of ineffective counsel.

    "Accordingly, we believe it necessary for the lower courts to determine on remand whether the state court's factual findings warrant a presumption of correctness, and to conduct any further proceedings as may be appropriate in light of their resolution of that issue."

    The justices, however, expressed no opinion as to whether Jefferson's Sixth Amendment rights were violated.

    Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.

    Scalia said it is the first time Jefferson has made such a claim, and therefore it can't be raised on appeal.

    "The court insists ... that if we squint at them long enough we can see in Jefferson's briefs ... a challenge to the state court's fact-finding process," Scalia wrote.

    http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/05/24/27538.htm

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    Administrator Aaron's Avatar
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    On May 12, 2017, the State of Georgia filed an appeal before the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals over the presumable granting of Jefferson's habeas petition.

    https://dockets.justia.com/docket/ci.../ca11/17-12160
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    Administrator Aaron's Avatar
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    More information about the District Court ruling for Jefferson, as posted by the Death Penalty Information Center: The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia has overturned the death sentence imposed on Lawrence Jefferson, saying that his trial counsel had been ineffective for failing to investigate and present available mitigating evidence in his case, including evidence related to "a head injury he sustained as a child when an automobile rolled over his head." The court also found that the state courts had denied Jefferson a "full and fair" hearing on the issue, in violation of due process, when, without notice to Jefferson's lawyer, it invited the Assistant Attorney General to submit an order dismissing Jefferson's petition for relief, then signed the order submitted verbatim, complete with factual misstatements and erroneous legal citations. The potential brain damage to Jefferson was so obvious that the U.S. Supreme Court noted in a 2010 opinion sending the case back for further consideration that "[t]he accident left [Jefferson's] skull swollen and misshapen and his forehead visibly scarred." Before trial, a psychologist had recommended that defense counsel obtain a neuropsychological evaluation of Jefferson, but no evaluation was performed. An examination conducted during Jefferson's appeals process found significant evidence of brain damage, including an enlarged head indicative of brain swelling from the accident, asymmetrical reflexes, and discrepancies in verbal and visual-spatial test scores. A neuropsychologist concluded that these findings indicated right hemisphere and frontal lobe damage to the brain. A neurologist testified, "the most common thing with a closed head injury, traumatic injury of this sort, is problems with judgments, executive planning, and impulse control, the ability to foresee the consequences of your action in the future, as opposed to right now." Jefferson's jury never heard this mitigating evidence. According to the court, "The mental health evidence would have provided the jury an explanation for Petitioner’s past behavior and his testimony regarding his past behavior."

    The District Court ruling can be found here: https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/files/p...ellersNDGa.pdf
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  6. #6
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    On June 13, 2018, oral argument will be heard in Jefferson's appeal before the Eleventh Circuit.

    http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/sites/d...ic_Revised.pdf

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    Administrator Aaron's Avatar
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    The pdf lists Jefferson as the appellant and Georgia as the appellee in the case. But the District Court ruled in favor of Jefferson.
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    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    On October 3, 2018, oral argument will be heard in Jefferson's appeal before the Eleventh Circuit.

    http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/sites/d...on3_Public.pdf

  9. #9
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    In today's opinions, acting under pre-AEDPA law, the Eleventh Circuit GRANTED Jefferson's habeas petition and ordered a new sentencing hearing. The panel was made up of Chief Judge Carnes (G.H.W. Bush), Judge Tjoflat (Ford) and Judge Marcus (Clinton).

    http://media.ca11.uscourts.gov/opini.../201712160.pdf

  10. #10
    Administrator Aaron's Avatar
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    Is AEDPA not retroactive or something? I assumed it was.
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