Bellury, Reginald - 1 of 2 Defense Attorneys-at-Law (Opening Argument)
Counsel failed to do what reasonable lawyers do -- conduct an investigation, interview potential witnesses, take notes to memorialize the information obtained, and then exercise professional judgment in determining which of the available witnesses to present to establish the favorable or mitigating aspects of the client's life. The presentation of utterly superficial and perfunctory mitigating evidence constitutes ineffective assistance where a wealth of genuinely mitigating information is ignored. Deficient performance of counsel at the guilt phase was largely attributable to the failure to investigate, consult with experts and prepare adequately for trial. The two lawyers appointed to defend Mr. Fugate lacked information essential for exercising judgment. Indeed, there was only a brief, day-and-a-half skirmish during which appointed counsel acted more as observers than as combatants. Because they had not sufficiently investigated and prepared for trial, they failed completely to subject the state's case to any serious adversarial testing. They gave the prosecutor free rein, making not a single objection no matter what happened, even when Mr. Fugate repeatly pointed out false testimony and asked them to object.
Butts County Court Transcript of June, 1996, Reginald Bellury stated the reason he didn't object was he "wanted to get the trial over with as quick as possible."


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