Document Type



On December 9, 2009, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, concluded that Scott Lynn Pinholster had received deficient, prejudicial assistance of counsel at the penalty phase of his capital case, vacating an earlier decision by a panel of the Ninth Circuit. The U.S. Supreme Court subsequently granted certiorari to consider whether this was an appropriate application of both Strickland v. Washington and the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. This Comment argues that the latter en banc majority opinion more effectively ensures that capital defendants such as Pinholster are permitted to vindicate their Sixth Amendment rights to effective assistance of counsel because the position advocated by the dissent would largely erode these fundamental constitutional protections.