583 U.S. ___ (2017)
ALABAMA MATTHEW REEVES
PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF CRIMINAL
APPEALS OF ALABAMA
petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.
JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR, with whom JUSTICE GINSBURG and JUSTICE
KAGAN join, dissenting from the denial of certiorari.
Matthew Reeves was convicted by an Alabama jury of capital
murder and sentenced to death. He sought postconviction
relief in state court based on, as relevant here, several
claims of ineffective assistance of trial and appellate
counsel. Among those claims, Reeves argued that his
trial counsel was ineffective for failing to hire an expert
to evaluate him for intellectual disability, despite having
sought and obtained funding and an appointment order from the
state trial court to hire a specific neuropsychologist. His
postconviction counsel subsequently hired that same
neuropsychologist, who concluded that Reeves was, in fact,
intellectually disabled. Reeves contended that this and other
evidence could have been used during the penalty phase of his
trial to establish mitigation.
Alabama Circuit Court held an evidentiary hearing on
Reeves' postconviction petition, at which Reeves
presented substantial evidence regarding his intellectual
disability and his counsel's performance. He did not,
however, call his trial or appellate counsel to testify. The
court denied the petition, and the Alabama Court of Criminal
Appeals affirmed. In doing so, the Court of Criminal Appeals
explained that a petitioner seeking postconviction relief on
the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel must question
his counsel about his reasoning and actions. Without
considering the extensive record evidence before it regarding
Reeves' counsel's performance or giving any
explanation as to why that evidence did not prove that his
counsel's actions were unreasonable, the Court of
Criminal Appeals held that Reeves' failure to call his
attorneys to testify was fatal to his claims of ineffective
assistance of counsel. The Alabama Supreme Court denied
can be no dispute that the imposition of a categorical rule
that counsel must testify in order for a petitioner to
succeed on a federal constitutional
ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim contravenes our
decisions requiring an objective inquiry into the adequacy
and reasonableness of counsel's performance based on the
full record before the court. Even Alabama does not defend
such a rule. Instead, the dispute here is whether the Alabama
Court of Criminal Appeals in fact imposed such a rule in this
case. I believe it plainly did so. For that reason, I
respectfully dissent from the denial of certiorari.
capital trial, Reeves was initially appointed two attorneys,
Blanchard McLeod, Jr., and Marvin Wiggins, to represent him.
Before trial, McLeod and Wiggins filed a motion requesting
that the court appoint Dr. John R. Goff, a clinical
neuropsychologist, as an expert "to evaluate, test, and
interview" Reeves and require the State to provide them
with the necessary funds to hire Dr. Goff. 1 Record in No.
98-77 (Ala. Crim. App.), pp. 64-65 (Direct Appeal Record).
The trial court denied the motion, id., at 67, and
McLeod and Wiggins requested rehearing. In the rehearing
request, the attorneys explained that they "possesse[d]
hundreds of pages of psychological, psychometric and
behavioral analysis material" and "[t]hat a
clinical neuropsychologist or a person of like standing and
expertise [was] the only avenue open to the defense to
compile [and] correlate this information, interview [Reeves,
] and present this information in an orderly and informative
fashion to the jury during the mitigation phase of the
trial." Id., at 68-69.
a hearing on the request, McLeod represented that hiring Dr.
Goff was critical to the attorneys' preparation for the
mitigation phase of Reeves' trial. He urged the
importance of retaining Dr. Goff right away, as Dr. Goff
would require time to review the existing records, interview
people familiar with Reeves, and meet with Reeves several
times prior to testifying. 3 Direct Appeal Record, Tr. in No.
CC-97-31 (C. C. Dallas Cty., Ala.), pp. 9-10. As support for
that point, McLeod recounted that, in a recent capital case
in which another trial court had granted an
"identical" motion to appoint Dr. Goff, the counsel
there had filed "at a very late date" such that Dr.
Goff "did not have the time to adequately prepare"
for that defendant's hearing, and the death penalty was
imposed. Id., at 10. The trial court reconsidered
and granted the funding and appointment requests. 1
id., at 75.
thereafter, McLeod withdrew as counsel and was replaced by
Thomas Goggans. Wiggins, however, remained as counsel on the
case, and he and Goggans represented Reeves at trial.
having received funding and an appointment order from the
court, Reeves' trial counsel never contacted Dr. Goff,
nor did they hire any other expert to evaluate Reeves for
intellectual disability, notwithstanding the "hundreds
of pages" of materials they possessed. 13 Rec- ord in
No. CC-97-31.60 (Rule 32 Record), pp. 66-67; 4 id.,
at 697; 5 id., at 862.
the guilt phase of the trial concluded, the jury convicted
Reeves of capital murder. During the penalty phase,
Reeves' trial counsel called three mitigation witnesses.
First, they called Detective Pat Grindle, the officer in
charge of investigating the murder, who gave a physical
description of Reeves' childhood home based on his search
of the house during the investigation. 8 Direct Appeal
Record, Tr. 1118-1122; ___ So.3d ___, 2016 WL 3247447, *3
(Ala. Crim. App., June 10, 2016). Next, petitioner's
mother testified about Reeves' childhood, including that
he had repeated two grades, was put in "special classes,
" received mental health services starting in second or
third grade, and was expelled in eighth grade. 8 Direct
Appeal Record, Tr. 1127. She also testified that, when he was
young, Reeves had "little blackout spells" and
would report "seeing things, " and that he was shot
in the head a few months before the murder for which he was
convicted. Id., at 1127, 1131, 1137, 1120-1150.
Finally, Reeves' counsel called Dr. Kathleen Ronan, a
court-appointed clinical psychologist, with whom counsel met
and spoke for the first time shortly before she took the
witness stand. 4 Rule 32 Record 609. Dr. Ronan had evaluated
Reeves for the purposes of assessing his competency to stand
trial and his mental state at the time of the offense, but
had not conducted a penalty-phase evaluation or evaluated
Reeves for intellectual disability. Ibid. Dr. Ronan
testified that she had given Reeves only the verbal part of
an intelligence test, noting that this was the "portion
[of the test that] taps into the issues that were being asked
by the Court, " and had concluded based on that partial
assessment that he was at "the borderline of mental
retardation." 8 Direct Appeal Record, Tr. 1165.
jury deliberated for less than an hour. 8 Direct Appeal
Record 1227. By a vote of 10 to 2, they recom- mended that
Reeves be sentenced to death. 2 id., at 233. The trial
judge then considered the aggravating and mitigating
circumstances and found two mitigating factors: Reeves'
age and lack of significant prior criminal history.
Id., at 236. He expressly refused to find that
Reeves' "capacity ... to appreciate the criminality
of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements
of law was substantially impaired." Ala. Code
§13A-5-51(6) (2015); 2 Direct Appeal Record 237. The
trial judge found that the aggravating circumstances
outweighed the two mitigating ones and sentenced Reeves to
death. Id., at 239.
his conviction and sentence were affirmed on direct appeal,
during which Goggans continued to represent him, Reeves, with
the assistance of new counsel, sought postconviction relief
in state court pursuant to Rule 32 of the Alabama Rules of
Criminal Procedure. He alleged, inter alia,
ineffective assistance of both his trial and appellate
counsel. Among his claims were that his trial counsel were
ineffective for failing to hire Dr. Goff or another
neuropsychologist to evaluate him for intellectual
disability, failing to present expert testimony of