Lambrix v. Singletary, No. 92-4539

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore KRAVITCH, HATCHETT and ANDERSON; ANDERSON
Citation72 F.3d 1500
PartiesCary Michael LAMBRIX, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Harry K. SINGLETARY, Respondent-Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 92-4539
Decision Date03 January 1996

Page 1500

72 F.3d 1500
Cary Michael LAMBRIX, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
Harry K. SINGLETARY, Respondent-Appellee.
No. 92-4539.
United States Court of Appeals,
Eleventh Circuit.
Jan. 3, 1996.

Page 1502

Robert C. Josefsberg, Podhurst, Orseck, Josefsberg, Eaton, Meadow, Olin & Perwin, P.A., Miami, Florida, Matthew Lawry, Volunteer Lawyers' Resource Center of Florida, Inc., Tallahassee, Florida, for appellant.

Robert J. Krauss, Assistant Attorney General, Tampa, Florida, Carol M. Dittmar, Asst. Atty. General, Tampa, Florida, for appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Before KRAVITCH, HATCHETT and ANDERSON, Circuit Judges.

ANDERSON, Circuit Judge:

I. BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Cary Michael Lambrix was indicted on two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the 1983 killings of Clarence Moore and Aleisha Bryant. 1 At Lambrix's first trial, the jury was unable to reach a verdict and a mistrial was declared. At his second trial, the jury found Lambrix guilty and recommended the death penalty on both counts. The trial judge found 5 aggravating circumstances in regard to the murder of Moore, 4 aggravating circumstances in regard to the murder of Bryant, and no mitigating circumstances with respect to either victim. 2 Thus, in accordance with the jury's recommendation, the trial judge imposed two sentences of death upon Lambrix.

The convictions and sentences were affirmed by the Florida Supreme Court. Lambrix v. State, 494 So.2d 1143 (Fla.1986). The Florida Supreme Court subsequently rejected challenges to Lambrix's conviction and sentence in three separate post-conviction proceedings. See Lambrix v. Dugger, 529 So.2d 1110 (Fla.1988) (denial of habeas petition alleging ineffective assistance); Lambrix v. State, 534 So.2d 1151 (Fla.1988) (appeal of trial court's denial of a 3.850 motion for post-conviction relief); Lambrix v. State, 559 So.2d 1137 (Fla.1990) (appeal of trial court's denial of petition for writ of habeas corpus). Lambrix then petitioned the district court for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2254. The district court denied the petition, Lambrix v. Dugger, No. 88-12107-Civ-Zloch (S.D.Fla. May 12, 1992), and Lambrix appeals.

While this appeal was pending, the United States Supreme Court handed down Espinosa

Page 1503

v. Florida, 505 U.S. 1079, 112 S.Ct. 2926, 120 L.Ed.2d 854 (1992). The Espinosa decision had significant ramifications for Lambrix's claims that his sentencing jury was inadequately instructed on the "heinous, atrocious and cruel" ("HAC") and "cold, calculated and premeditated" ("CCP") aggravating factors. The state pointed out that the state courts had not had a fair opportunity to address the substance of Lambrix's claims as significantly transformed by Espinosa. Thus, on the state's motion, we stayed this appeal to permit Lambrix to present his Espinosa claims to the Florida state courts. Lambrix v. Dugger, No. 92-4539 (11th Cir. Mar. 3, 1993). On June, 16, 1994, the Florida Supreme Court denied relief on Lambrix's Espinosa claims. Lambrix v. Singletary, 641 So.2d 847 (Fla.1994). Lambrix's motion for rehearing was also denied. Because there is no longer reason to hold this proceeding in abeyance, we now address Lambrix's claims on appeal from the district court's denial of his habeas petition.

Lambrix raises a host of issues. We discuss Lambrix's Espinosa claims, and his claims that he was denied effective assistance of counsel at the penalty phase of his second trial and on appeal, that his second trial subjected him to double jeopardy, and that he was denied the right to testify on his own behalf. We affirm with respect to these claims. The remaining claims are without merit and warrant no discussion. 3

II. DISCUSSION

A. Jury Instructions

Lambrix asserts that the sentencing jury's consideration of the "especially heinous, atrocious or cruel" ("HAC") and "cold, calculated and premeditated" ("CCP") aggravating factors violated the Eighth Amendment because the jury was not given sufficient guidance concerning the application of these factors. See Maynard v. Cartwright, 486 U.S. 356, 359, 108 S.Ct. 1853, 1856, 100 L.Ed.2d 372 (1988), and Godfrey v. Georgia, 446 U.S. 420, 428-29, 100 S.Ct. 1759, 1765, 64 L.Ed.2d 398 (1980). We assume arguendo that the jury was not given sufficient guidance on these factors. 4 However, the trial judge reweighed the aggravating and mitigating factors, and sentenced Lambrix to death. The state argues that the trial judge is presumed to know and apply the law in the narrow construction as required by Florida Supreme Court cases. Thus, the state argues that the sentencing judge's proper reweighing of the HAC and CCP factors cured any error in the jury's consideration of these factors. Under Espinosa, we now know that the sentencing judge's reweighing of aggravating factors is insufficient to cure constitutional defects in the sentencing jury's consideration of those factors. 505 U.S. at 1081-82, 112 S.Ct. at 2928-29. However, on facts identical in all relevant respects to this case, the en banc court in Glock v. Singletary, 5 held that Espinosa's holding--i.e., a sentencing judge's proper reweighing does not cure the constitutional error--is a new rule which cannot be applied retroactively under Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288, 109 S.Ct. 1060, 103 L.Ed.2d 334 (1989). Thus, because Lambrix's conviction became final before the Espinosa decision announced the new rule, Lambrix's Espinosa claim is Teague-barred. Teague, 489 U.S. at 310, 109 S.Ct. at 1075.

Page 1504

B. Ineffective assistance of counsel at sentencing

Lambrix asserts that he received ineffective assistance during the sentencing phase of his trial because counsel 6 failed to investigate and present mitigating evidence of Lambrix's alcoholism and drug dependence, and evidence that Lambrix had been subject to sexual and physical abuse as a child. Claims of ineffective assistance during the penalty phase of a capital case are subject to the two-prong analysis laid out by the United States Supreme Court in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984). To make out a successful claim, Lambrix must show (1) that his counsel's performance was deficient, and (2) that the deficient performance prejudiced the defense. 466 U.S. at 687, 104 S.Ct. at 2064. Because we find that counsel's performance was not deficient, we do not address whether the alleged errors in counsel's representation prejudiced Lambrix.

Counsel's performance is deficient if counsel fails to make a reasonable investigation for possible mitigating evidence in preparation for the penalty phase of a capital trial. Thompson v. Wainwright, 787 F.2d 1447, 1451 (11th Cir.1986), cert. denied, 481 U.S. 1042, 107 S.Ct. 1986, 95 L.Ed.2d 825 (1987). This is not a case where counsel failed to make an investigation altogether, Cf. Thompson, 787 F.2d at 1451 (counsel failed to conduct any investigation of defendant's background for possible mitigating evidence), or where counsel made only a desultory or cursory effort to find mitigating evidence. Cf. Armstrong v. Dugger, 833 F.2d 1430, 1433 (11th Cir.1987) (counsel's investigation consisted of consultation with probation officer and one interview with defendant and parents). Counsel undertook substantial effort to find mitigating evidence, enlisting the aid of an independent investigator, and interviewing Lambrix and at least five members of Lambrix's immediate family. Counsel consulted Dr. Whitman, a mental health professional who had conducted a psychological evaluation of Lambrix to determine Lambrix's competence to stand trial. Counsel also reviewed various prison records. At some point, counsel uncovered evidence of Lambrix's alcohol and drug dependence. However, Lambrix argues that counsel's investigation was inadequate because counsel failed to discover further evidence of chemical dependence, and counsel failed to uncover any evidence whatsoever of sexual and physical abuse and neglect. We turn first to Lambrix's claim that counsel was ineffective for failure to discover and present evidence of alcohol and drug use, and then address the similar claim with respect to physical and sexual abuse.

Lambrix argues that counsel's investigation was inadequate because counsel failed to uncover a wealth of additional available evidence of alcoholism and drug use. We disagree. After an evidentiary hearing, the district court found that counsel was aware of Lambrix's history of alcohol abuse; however, the district court also found counsel's failure to present evidence of chemical dependence at sentencing 7 was the result of counsel's tactical decision to downplay the evidence of chemical dependency in order to focus on evidence of Lambrix's good character. As the district court noted, counsel could have reasonably determined that evidence of chemical dependence would be detrimental rather than beneficial in the sentencing phase, and that such evidence would undermine counsel's apparent strategy of painting the crime as a mere aberration in the life of a generally upstanding individual.

After a reasonable tactical decision has made further investigation into a particular matter unnecessary, an attorney is

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not deficient in his duty to make a "reasonable investigation" by failing to further investigate that matter. See Strickland, 466 U.S. at 691, 104 S.Ct. at 2066 ("[C]ounsel has a duty to make reasonable investigations or make a reasonable decision that makes particular investigations unnecessary.") (emphasis added). Lambrix argues that counsel's failure to present more evidence of alcohol and drug dependency could not have been a tactical decision because counsel testified in a 1990 deposition that his tactic would have been to offer mitigating evidence of chemical dependency if such evidence had been available. However, our reading of the deposition transcript...

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47 practice notes
  • U.S. v. Leggett, No. 96-7772
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • December 3, 1998
    ...leading to the close of evidence, Gardner had convinced Leggett that testifying was not in his best interests. See Lambrix v. Singletary, 72 F.3d 1500, 1508 (11th Cir.1996) ("Without evidence that [the defendant] was subject to continued coercion, we cannot assume that [the defendant's] app......
  • Sims v. Singletary, No. 97-3355
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • September 22, 1998
    ...the admission of damaging testimony at trial), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 118 S.Ct. 1071, 140 L.Ed.2d 130 (1998); Lambrix v. Singletary, 72 F.3d 1500, 1504-05 (11th Cir.1996)(counsel's decision not to present a wealth of evidence of chemical dependency was a tactical choice since counsel ......
  • U.S. v. Battle, Criminal Case No. 1:95-CR-528-ODE.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • April 30, 2003
    ...to conduct a reasonable investigation for the purpose of seeking mitigating evidence in a capital case. See, e.g., Lambrix v. Singletary, 72 F.3d 1500 (11th Cir.1996), rehearing en banc denied 83 F.3d 438 (11th Cir.1996), certiorari granted in part, 519 U.S. 958, 117 S.Ct. 380, 136 L.Ed.2d ......
  • Vieira v. Chappell, Case No. 1:05-CV-01492-AWI-SAB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • February 5, 2015
    ...to show the crime to be an aberration in an otherwise decent life. See Burger v. Kemp, 483 U.S. 776, 793 (1987); Lambrix v. Singletary, 72 F.3d 1500, 1504 (11th Cir. 1996). 4. Petitioner's Additional Evidence Nevertheless, Petitioner faults counsel for failing to discover and present eviden......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
47 cases
  • U.S. v. Battle, Criminal Case No. 1:95-CR-528-ODE.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • April 30, 2003
    ...to conduct a reasonable investigation for the purpose of seeking mitigating evidence in a capital case. See, e.g., Lambrix v. Singletary, 72 F.3d 1500 (11th Cir.1996), rehearing en banc denied 83 F.3d 438 (11th Cir.1996), certiorari granted in part, 519 U.S. 958, 117 S.Ct. 380, 136 L.Ed.2d ......
  • Vieira v. Chappell, Case No. 1:05-CV-01492-AWI-SAB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • February 5, 2015
    ...to show the crime to be an aberration in an otherwise decent life. See Burger v. Kemp, 483 U.S. 776, 793 (1987); Lambrix v. Singletary, 72 F.3d 1500, 1504 (11th Cir. 1996). 4. Petitioner's Additional Evidence Nevertheless, Petitioner faults counsel for failing to discover and present eviden......
  • Lambrix v. State, No. SC16–8
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • March 9, 2017
    ...Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of relief. Lambrix v. Dugger , No. 88–12107–CIV–Zloch (S.D. Fla. May 12, 1992), aff'd 72 F.3d 1500 (11th Cir. 1996). In these federal proceedings, Lambrix challenged whether he was entitled to relief based on his Espinosa claim. The United States......
  • Lambrix v. Sec'y, No. 13–11917.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • June 26, 2014
    ...claims, and affirmed the district court's denial of Lambrix's initial § 2254 habeas petition. See Lambrix v. Singletary, 72 F.3d 1500, 1502–07 (11th Cir.1996), aff'd,520 U.S. 518, 117 S.Ct. 1517, 137 L.Ed.2d 771 (1997).11 In particular, this Court discussed at length, and ultimately [756 F.......
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