The Tenth Circuit published its opinion in Davis v. Workman on August 28, 2012.
An Oklahoma jury convicted Defendant Davis of the first degree murder and rape of Josephine “Jody” Sanford. After unsuccessfully appealing to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (OCCA), and pursuing postconviction relief in state court, Defendant unsuccessfully sought relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 in the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. The district court denied a certificate of appealability (COA) but the Tenth Circuit granted a COA on three issues: (1) whether Defendant’s statements to police officers while he was hospitalized were knowing, intelligent, and voluntary; (2) whether his counsel was ineffective in failing to present scientific evidence that he was impaired while making those statements; and (3) whether Defendant’s trial and appellate counsel were ineffective for failing to present evidence and argue that his hospital statements were coerced by the officers’ refusing to allow him to receive morphine for his pain until they had completed their questioning.
The Court’s review in a § 2254 proceeding is highly deferential.
(1) Defendant contended that his morphine medication kept him from being fully aware of the rights being abandoned during the second hospital interview. Statements to the police during a custodial interrogation are inadmissible if the defendant did not waive his Miranda rights knowingly and voluntarily. What Defendant presented on appeal failed to overcome the deference owed to the OCCA decision. The expert report merely stated that there was a possibility of impairment from the medication. The Tenth Circuit held that the state court did not unreasonably determine the facts or unreasonably apply clearly established federal law in concluding that Defendant knowingly and intelligently waived his rights.
(2) Defendant argued his counsel was ineffective in failing to present scientific evidence that he was impaired while making statements in the hospital. To succeed on an ineffectiveness-of-counsel claim, Defendant must show: that counsel’s representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness, rendering his or her performance deficient, and that the deficiency prejudiced the defense through errors so serious as to deprive the defendant of a fair trial, a trial whose result is reliable. To demonstrate prejudice, a defendant must show that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel’s unprofessional errors, the jury would have had a reasonable doubt respecting guilt. The Tenth Circuit held that Defendant did not make the necessary showing that the OCCA “unreasonably concluded that [he] was not prejudiced” by counsel’s failure to present at trial the additional evidence of impairment.
(3) Finally, Defendant contends that his trial and appellate counsel were ineffective for failing to present evidence and argue that his hospital statements were coerced by the officers’ refusing to allow him to receive morphine for his pain until they had completed their questioning. For Defendant to prevail on his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, he must establish that any competent attorney would have raised the morphine coercion claim and that he was prejudiced by the failure of his attorneys to do so. However, the Court found the evidence that Defendant felt coerced by the withholding of morphine very weak, if not nonexistent. Accordingly, this claim was also denied.