Texas Death Row Inmate Won’t Get Second Round at SCOTUS

A Texas death row inmate lost his latest chance at avoiding the ultimate punishment after a divided U.S. Supreme Court June 4 turned away his appeal.

Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented from the denial.

In light of the court’s rejection, Carlos Trevino “remains subject to a death sentence having received inadequate consideration of his claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel, and with no jury having fairly appraised the substantial new mitigating evidence that a competent counsel would have discovered,” Sotomayor wrote for the duo.

“That result is indefensible, especially where our failure to intervene sanctions the taking of a life by the state,” she wrote.

Trevino won a previous appeal to the Supreme Court in 2013 that gave him a chance to attack his lawyer’s allegedly ineffective performance at trial.

His lawyer should have done a better job investigating and presenting to the jury mitigating evidence that he suffered from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, Trevino argued.

But that evidence was “double-edged,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit said. A full picture of his circumstances would have shown that he was engaged in a pattern of violence that he understood was wrong, it said.

Trevino argued to the justices that the Fifth Circuit was wrong on the merits, applied the wrong standard for evaluating his claim, and that its ruling is “unconscionable in a death penalty case.”

The case is Trevino v. Davis, U.S., No. 17-6883, review denied, 6/4/18.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jordan S. Rubin in Washington at jrubin@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: C. Reilly Larson at rlarson@bloomberglaw.com