In late November, POGO assisted a group of former federal prosecutors who filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to once again hear the case of Terence Andrus, who is on death row in Texas. Last year, the court found that Andrus’s trial lawyer had been shockingly ineffective, depriving him of his right to counsel. In its ruling, the Supreme Court highlighted extensive mitigating evidence that Andrus’s lawyer had never presented at trial. The court ordered the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) to reconsider whether this evidence could have prevented one juror from sentencing Andrus to death.
Instead, the CCA once again upheld its ruling, deciding that the evidence the Supreme Court called “mitigating” actually suggested Andrus was even more deserving of the death penalty. The prosecutors’ brief, which was signed by several people who had supported Andrus in his previous petition, says that this amounts to insubordination by the CCA. They emphasize that the right to an effective defense lawyer is one of the bedrocks of the legal system, and argue that the Supreme Court must reassert its authority over the state court and require it to address the case properly.
We are grateful to Chloe Holt and LaRue Robinson at Willkie Farr & Gallagher, LLP for representing the amici.
The Constitution Project seeks to safeguard our constitutional rights when the government exercises power in the name of national security and domestic policing, including ensuring our institutions serve as a check on that power.