Atwood, et al v. Stewart, et al
ORDER GRANTING Respondents 434 Motion to Preclude Testimony of Strickland Expert. Signed by Judge John C Coughenour on 7/24/13.(BAC)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF ARIZONA
Frank Jarvis Atwood,
DEATH PENALTY CASE
Charles L. Ryan, et al.,
Before the Court is Respondents’ Motion to Preclude Testimony of Strickland
Expert. (Doc. 434.) Petitioner previously filed notice of his intent to rely on testimony
from a Strickland expert and opposes the instant motion. (Docs. 432, 438.)
In both its initial scheduling order (Doc. 405) and order resetting the evidentiary
hearing and discovery deadlines (Doc. 428), the Court indicated that it does not favor the
use of Strickland legal experts. Petitioner asserts that expert testimony is necessary to
assist the Court in determining whether sentencing counsel’s failures with regard to the
investigation and presentation of mitigation evidence were based on tactical decisions in
light of the standards of practice at the time. The Court has considered Petitioner’s
arguments, in both the notice of intent to rely on a Strickland expert and the opposition to
Respondents’ motion to preclude. Although, as Petitioner notes, some judges permit
such testimony, “it is within a district court’s discretion to exclude proposed expert
testimony concerning a legal standard of care and to rely solely on the briefs.” Heishman
v. Ayers, 621 F.3d 1030, 1042 (9th Cir. 2010); see also Hovey v. Ayers, 458 F.3d 892,
910-11 (9th Cir. 2006) (finding no abuse of discretion from exclusion of expert testimony
concerning legal standard of care). Because this Court is well versed in the relevant law
and standards governing sentencing counsel’s representation at the time of Petitioner’s
trial, it finds that expert testimony concerning the prevailing standard of care would not
assist it in understanding the evidence or determining a fact in issue. Fed. R. Evid.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Respondents’ Motion to Preclude
Testimony of Strickland Expert (Doc. 434) is GRANTED.
DATED this 24th day of July, 2013.
John C. Coughenour
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?