Opinions Relating to Orders - 2021

Andrus v. Texas

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied. JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR, with whom JUSTICE BREYER and JUSTICE KAGAN join, dissenting from the denial of certiorari.

A state habeas court recommended vacating petitioner Terence Andrus’ death sentence after an 8-day hearing that uncovered a plethora of mitigating evidence that trial counsel had failed to investigate or present. The court held that Andrus had received ineffective assistance of counsel at the punishment phase of his trial. See Strickland v. Washington, 466 U. S. 668 (1984). The Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas reversed; this Court summarily vacated and remanded. See Andrus v. Texas, 590 U. S. _ (2020) (per curiam).

This Court held that counsel had rendered constitutionally deficient performance. That conclusion was based on an “apparent ‘tidal wave’” of “compelling” and “powerful mitigating evidence” in the habeas record, none of which counsel presented to the jury. Id., at , , _ (slip op., at 9, 11, 18). The Court also found counsel ineffective for several specific failures to investigate and rebut the State’s case in aggravation. Id., at (slip op., at 13–16). The Court remanded to allow the Texas court to evaluate in the first instance whether, in light of the Court’s holding as to deficient perfor