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White v. State

Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals

April 12, 2019

Justin White
v.
State of Alabama

          Appeal from Jefferson Circuit Court (CC-09-1813.60)

          KELLUM, JUDGE.

         Justin White, currently an inmate on death row at Holman Correctional Facility, appeals the Jefferson Circuit Court's summary dismissal of his petition for postconviction relief filed pursuant to Rule 32, Ala. R. Crim. P., attacking his capital-murder convictions and sentence of death.

         In 2009, White was convicted of murdering Jasmine Parker during the course of a rape and a burglary. The jury recommended, by a vote of 9 to 3, that White be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The trial court sentenced White to death. On direct appeal, this Court affirmed White's convictions and remanded the case to the trial court for it to correct its sentencing order. On return to remand, we affirmed White's death sentence. See White v. State, 179 So.3d 170 (Ala.Crim.App.2013). The United States Supreme Court denied certiorari review. See White v. Alabama, 577 U.S.__, 136 S.Ct. 365 (2015). This Court issued a certificate of judgment on April 17, 2015. See Rule 41, Ala. R. App. P.

         On April 12, 2016, White, acting pro se, timely filed Rule 32 petition.[1] White requested in forma pauperis status. That motion was granted, and two attorneys were appointed to assist White in the postconviction proceedings. Appointed counsel filed a 206-page amended petition in January 2017. The State filed an answer to the petition and moved that it be dismissed. The circuit court dismissed White's petition. This appeal followed.

         On direct appeal, this Court set out the following facts surrounding White's convictions:

"On the morning of July 11, 2006, Parker went to work with her mother, Vanessa Parker, at Sharp Cleaners in Vestavia. Parker was not employed at the cleaners; however, she helped Vanessa on occasion. Around 3:00 p.m., Sylvia Williams, Vanessa's coworker, drove Parker home. After Parker got home, she called Vanessa and asked if she could go to a Captain D's restaurant with Greg Jelks. Vanessa gave Parker permission to go.
"Vanessa left work around 6:00 p.m. and went to a funeral home because a friend had passed away. After leaving the funeral home, Vanessa drove to her apartment. She arrived at the apartment between 7:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. As she entered the apartment, she called out to Parker but received no response. At that point, Vanessa noticed that the apartment was in disarray. The cushions on the couch were misplaced, the telephone had been knocked from its base, and a coffee table had been knocked over.
"Vanessa then began to walk through the apartment and found Parker's body in a small hall area. Parker was nude from the waist down and her shirt was pulled up, exposing her breasts. Parker's blue jeans had been tied in a knot around her neck and used to strangle her to death. Upon finding Parker's body, Vanessa telephoned emergency 911.
"In response to Vanessa's call to 911, law-enforcement officers were dispatched to the apartment. Steve Owens, an officer with the forensic unit of the Birmingham police department, was called to the scene to collect evidence and diagram the scene. While at the scene, Owens took a number of photographs and collected, among other things: 1) a plastic fingernail that had been found next to Parker's body; 2) a cigar tip that had been found on a table; and 3) a cigarette butt. Parker's cellular telephone was never found.
"Dr. Gregory G. Davis, with the Jefferson County Coroner's Office, performed an autopsy on Parker. According to Dr. Davis, when he began the examination, Parker's blue jeans were tied around her neck so tightly he could not get his finger between the blue jeans and her neck. Dr. Davis explained that Parker had abrasions on her neck from the blue jeans. She also had a nonlethal, five-inch cut on her neck. Dr. Davis testified that Parker had petechiae--ruptured blood vessels due to pressure- -under her eyelids. According to Dr. Davis, 'petechiae [are] something that you ... expect to see in someone who has been strangled.' (R. 313.) Dr. Davis concluded Parker had died as a result of asphyxia due to strangulation.
"During the autopsy, Dr. Davis swabbed Parker's mouth, vagina, and anus to look for signs of sexual assault. He also swabbed a stain on her leg. Initially, Dr. Davis did not detect any semen on the swabs. However, after examining the swabs a second time, Dr. Davis detected semen on the swab from Parker's vagina and on the swab from her leg.
"The investigation into Parker's murder languished until Detective Christopher Anderson, the lead detective, realized in August 2008 that none of the evidence collected from the crime scene or from Parker's body had been sent to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences (hereinafter 'DFS') for testing. The evidence collected from the crime scene and from Parker's body was then sent to DFS. Nathan Rhea, a forensic scientist at DFS, tested numerous items related to Parker's murder. According to Rhea, he obtained a DNA profile for saliva located on the cigar tip collected from the apartment and from the semen collected from Parker's leg and vagina. Rhea then entered those profiles into a State database and determined that the profiles matched White's profile."

White, 179 So.3d at 181-82 (footnote omitted).

         Standard of Review

         White is appealing the circuit court's summary dismissal of his Rule 32, Ala. R. Crim. P., petition. "The petitioner shall have the burden of pleading and proving by a preponderance of the evidence the facts necessary to entitle the petitioner to relief." Rule 32.3, Ala. R. Crim. P.

         Rule 32.6(b), Ala. R. Crim. P., addresses the pleading requirements in regard to postconviction petitions and provides:

"The petition must contain a clear and specific statement of the grounds upon which relief is sought, including full disclosure of the factual basis of those grounds. A bare allegation that a constitutional right has been violated and mere conclusions of law shall not be sufficient to warrant any further proceedings."

         When addressing the scope of Rule 32.6(b), Ala. R. Crim. P., this Court has stated:

"The burden of pleading under Rule 32.3 and Rule 32.6(b) is a heavy one. Conclusions unsupported by specific facts will not satisfy the requirements of Rule 32.3 and Rule 32.6(b). The full factual basis for the claim must be included in the petition itself. If, assuming every factual allegation in a Rule 32 petition to be true, a court cannot determine whether the petitioner is entitled to relief, the petitioner has not satisfied the burden of pleading under Rule 32.3 and Rule 32.6(b). See Bracknell v. State, 883 So.2d 724 (Ala.Crim.App.2003)."

Hyde v. State, 950 So.2d 344, 356 (Ala.Crim.App.2006).

"'Rule 32.6(b) requires that the petition itself disclose the facts relied upon in seeking relief.' Boyd v. State, 746 So.2d 364, 406 (Ala.Crim.App.1999). In other words, it is not the pleading of a conclusion 'which, if true, entitle[s] the petitioner to relief.' Lancaster v. State, 638 So.2d 1370, 1373 (Ala.Crim.App.1993). It is the allegation of facts in pleading which, if true, entitle a petitioner to relief. After facts are pleaded, which, if true, entitle the petitioner to relief, the petitioner is then entitled to an opportunity, as provided in Rule 32.9, Ala. R. Crim. P., to present evidence proving those alleged facts."

Boyd v. State, 913 So.2d 1113, 1125 (Ala.Crim.App.2003) (emphasis in original).

"'"Where a simple reading of the petition for post-conviction relief shows that, assuming every allegation of the petition to be true, it is obviously without merit or is precluded, the circuit court [may] summarily dismiss that petition."' Tatum v. State, 607 So.2d 383, 384 (Ala.Crim.App.1992), quoting Bishop v. State, 608 So.2d 345, 347-48 (Ala. 1992), quoting in turn Bishop v. State, 592 So.2d 664, 667 (Ala.Crim.App.1991)(Bowen, J., dissenting); see also Rule 32.7(d), Ala. R. Crim. P."

Boyd v. State, 913 So.2d at 1126. "An evidentiary hearing on a [Rule 32] petition is required only if the petition is 'meritorious on its face.' Ex parte Boatwright, 471 So.2d 1257 (Ala. 1985)." Moore v. State, 502 So.2d 819, 820 (Ala. 1986).

         "The sufficiency of pleadings in a Rule 32 petition is a question of law. 'The standard of review for pure questions of law in criminal cases is de novo. Ex parte Key, 890 So.2d 1056, 1059 (Ala. 2003).' Ex parte Lamb, 113 So.3d 686 (Ala. 2011)." Ex parte Beckworth, 190 So.3d 571, 573 (Ala. 2013).

"[A]t the pleading stage of Rule 32 proceedings, a Rule 32 petitioner does not have the burden of proving his claims by a preponderance of the evidence. Rather, at the pleading stage, a petitioner must provide only 'a clear and specific statement of the grounds upon which relief is sought.' Rule 32.6(b), Ala. R. Crim. P. Once a petitioner has met his burden of pleading so as to avoid summary disposition pursuant to Rule 32.7(d), Ala. R. Crim. P., he is then entitled to an opportunity to present evidence in order to satisfy his burden of proof."

Ford v. State, 831 So.2d 641, 644 (Ala.Crim.App.2001).

         Furthermore, even though this Court applied a plain-error standard of review for White's direct appeal, the plain-error standard does not apply to this appeal. See Ex parte Debone, 805 So.2d 763, 766 (Ala. 2001).

"'[A] judge who presided over the trial or other proceeding and observed the conduct of the attorneys at the trial or other proceeding need not hold a hearing on the effectiveness of those attorneys based upon conduct that he observed.' Ex parte Hill, 591 So.2d 462, 463 (Ala. 1991).
"'"'In some cases, recollection of the events at issue by the judge who presided at the original conviction may enable him summarily to dismiss a motion for postconviction relief.' Little v. State, 426 So.2d 527, 529 (Ala. Cr. App. 1983). 'If the circuit judge has personal knowledge of the actual facts underlying the allegations in the petition, he may deny the petition without further proceedings so long as he states the reasons for the denial in a written order.' Seats v. State, 556 So.2d 1094, 1095 (Ala. Cr. App. 1989)."'
"Ray v. State, 646 So.2d 161, 162 (Ala.Crim.App.1994) (quoting Norris v. State, 579 So.2d 34, 35 (Ala.Crim.App.1991) (Bowen, J., dissenting)). In this case, the judge who ruled on Bryant's petition was the same judge who presided over Bryant's original trial and over his second penalty-phase trial. Therefore, we find no error on the part of the circuit court in summarily dismissing some of Bryant's claims on the merits."

Bryant v. State, 181 So.3d 1087, 1102-03 (Ala.Crim.App.2011).

         Lastly, with limited exceptions not applicable here, "[t]here exists a long-standing and well-reasoned principle that we may affirm the denial of a Rule 32 petition if the denial is correct for any reason." McNabb v. State, 991 So.2d 313, 333 (Ala.Crim.App.2007). 2003). See also Bryant v. State, 181 So.3d 1087, 1100 (Ala.Crim.App.2011).

         With these principles in mind, we review the issues White raises in his brief to this Court.

         I.

         White first argues that the circuit court erred in adopting the State's proposed order summarily dismissing his postconviction petition because, he says, the order was written entirely by the State and "reflected a lack of independent findings and conclusions of law." (White's brief, p. 12.) White relies on Ex parte Ingram, 51 So.3d 1119 (Ala. 2010), and Ex parte Scott, [Ms. 1091275, March 18, 2011] __So. 3d __(Ala. 2011), to support this argument.

         The record establishes that, after the circuit court issued its order dismissing the petition, White filed a motion to reconsider. In that motion, White argued that the order should be set aside because, he said, it did not reflect the "court's independent findings and conclusions of law." (C. 598.)

         In discussing the scope of the Supreme Court's holding in Ex parte Ingram, this Court has stated:

"[T]he Alabama Supreme Court has admonished that 'appellate courts must be careful to evaluate a claim that a prepared order drafted by the prevailing party and adopted by the trial court verbatim does not reflect the independent and impartial findings and conclusions of the trial court.' Ex parte Ingram, 51 So.3d 1119, 1124 (Ala. 2010).
"In Ingram, the Supreme Court held that the circuit court's adoption of the State's proposed order denying postconviction relief was erroneous because, it said, the order stated that it was based in part on the personal knowledge and observations of the trial judge when the judge who actually signed the order denying the postconviction petition was not the same judge who had presided over Ingram's capital-murder trial. '[T]he patently erroneous nature of the statements regarding the trial judge's "personal knowledge" and observations of Ingram's capital-murder trial undermines any confidence that the trial court's findings of fact and conclusions of law are the product of the trial judge's independent judgment....' Ingram, 51 So.3d at 1125."

Ray v. State, 80 So.3d 965, 971-72 (Ala.Crim.App.2011).

          A year later, the Supreme Court reconsidered the Ingram holding in Ex parte Scott. In Scott, the Supreme Court reversed the circuit court's judgment, which adopted the State's answer. The Supreme Court stated:

"Here, we do not even have the benefit of an order proposed or 'prepared' by a party; rather the order is a judicial incorporation of a party's pleading as the 'independent and impartial findings and conclusions of the trial court.' [Ex parte Ingram, 51 So. 3d] at 1124 [(Ala. 2010)]. The first and most fundamental requirement of the reviewing court is to determine 'that the order and the findings and conclusions in such order are in fact those of the trial court.' Id. at 1124. The trial court's verbatim adoption of the State's answer to Scott's Rule 32 petition as its order, by its nature, violates this Court's holding in Ex parte Ingram."

Ex parte Scott, __So. 3d at __.

         In 2012, the Supreme Court again addressed this issue in Ex parte Jenkins, 105 So.3d 1250 (Ala. 2012), and clarified its earlier decisions. In affirming the circuit court's judgment adopting the State's proposed order, the Alabama Supreme Court stated:

"The circumstances of this case differ from the circumstances presented in Ex parte Ingram and Ex parte Scott. In both of those cases it was clear from evidence before this Court that the orders signed by the trial court were not the product of the trial court's independent judgment. In Ingram, that fact was clear from the statements contained in the order regarding the trial judge's 'personal knowledge' and observations of Ingram's capital-murder trial when the trial judge signing the proposed Rule 32 order did not preside over Ingram's capital-murder trial. In Ex parte Scott, that fact was clear from the materials before this Court, which contained the State's responsive pleading adopted by the trial court as its order. In this case, however, there is nothing definitive in the record or on the face of the order that indicates that the order is not the product of the trial court's independent judgment.
"....
"This Court's decision today should not be read as entitling a petitioner to relief in only those factual scenarios similar to those presented in Ex parte Ingram and Ex parte Scott. A Rule 32 petitioner would be entitled to relief in any factual scenario when the record before this Court clearly establishes that the order signed by the trial court denying postconviction relief is not the product of the trial court's independent judgment. See Ex parte Ingram."

Ex parte Jenkins, 105 So.3d at 1260.

         "Alabama courts have consistently held that even when a trial court adopts verbatim a party's proposed order, the findings of fact and conclusions of law are those of the trial court and they may be reversed only if they are clearly erroneous." McGahee v. State, 885 So.2d 191, 229-30 (Ala.Crim.App.2003).

         In this case, the proposed order adopted by the circuit court did not suffer from the defects that were present in Ex parte Ingram and Ex parte Scott. The circuit judge who signed the order was the same judge who had presided over White's trial, and the order did not reference events outside his personal knowledge. Nor did the circuit court adopt the State's answer as its final order. White acknowledges that the circuit court added its own "language regarding conclusions." (White's brief, p. 12.) There is no indication that the order was not the "product of the [circuit] court's independent judgment." Ex parte Jenkins, 105 So.3d at 1260. For the reasons set out in this opinion, we hold that the circuit court's findings are not clearly erroneous. Accordingly, we find no error in the circuit court's adoption of the State's proposed order as its final order summarily dismissing White's postconviction petition. White is due no relief on this claim.[2]

         II.

         White next argues that the circuit court erred in denying his request for funds for expert assistance to pursue his postconviction proceedings. White asserts that he was entitled to state funds to "investigate, develop, and prepare factual bases for his claims related to federal constitutional violations." (White's brief, at p. 15.) He relies on the United States Supreme Court cases of Ake v. Oklahoma, 470 U.S. 68 (1985), and McWilliams v. Dunn, 582 U.S.__, 137 S.Ct. 1790 (2017).

         The United States Supreme Court in Ake v. Oklahoma, 470 U.S. 68 (1985), first recognized that an indigent defendant is entitled to expert assistance when his/her mental state at the time of the offense is "seriously in question." 470 U.S. at 70. The court revisited and reaffirmed that holding in McWilliams v. Dunn. The Supreme Court in McWilliams v. Dunn stated:

"[N]o one denies that the conditions that trigger application of Ake [v. Oklahoma, 470 U.S. 68, 105 S.Ct. 1087, 84 L.Ed.2d 53 (1985)] are present. McWilliams is and was an 'indigent defendant,' 470 U.S., at 70, 105 S.Ct. 1087. See supra, at 1794. His 'mental condition' was 'relevant to ... the punishment he might suffer,' 470 U.S., at 80, 105 S.Ct. 1087. See supra, at 1794-1795. And, that 'mental condition,' i.e., his 'sanity at the time of the offense,' was 'seriously in question.' 470 U.S., at 70, 105 S.Ct. 1087. See supra, at 1794-1795. Consequently, the Constitution, as interpreted in Ake, required the State to provide McWilliams with 'access to a competent psychiatrist who will conduct an appropriate examination and assist in evaluation, preparation, and presentation of the defense,' 470 U.S., at 83, 105 S.Ct. 1087."

582 U.S. at__, 137 S.Ct. at 1798.

         Here, the record shows that on November 14, 2016, White filed an ex parte motion for funds for an expert to assist "in the development and presentation of evidence in support of his Rule 32 petition." (C. 177.) The State objected to White's motion. White then filed a renewed motion for funds for expert and investigative services. (C. 430.) In this motion, White requested $17, 100 for a neuropharmacologist; $6, 250 for a DNA expert; $12, 000 for a mitigation expert; $5, 200 for an investigator; undisclosed funds for a forensic psychologist; and undisclosed funds for a clinical neuropsychologist. White noted that the required fees for the last two experts would be forthcoming. (C. 430-52.) The State again filed an objection to White's motion. (C. 517.) At a hearing at which this motion was discussed, the court noted that it was denying the motion because it would not allow a "fishing expedition to retry or relitigate" issues. (R. 13.)[3]

         "'[T]he law is clear that Rule 32 petitioners are not entitled to funds to hire experts to assist in postconviction litigation, ex parte or otherwise .... Boyd v. State, 913 So.2d 1113 (Ala.Crim.App.2003).'" Bush v. State, 92 So.3d 121, 167 (Ala.Crim.App.2009). See also Van Pelt v. State, 202 So.3d 707, 719 (Ala.Crim.App.2015); McGahee v. State, 885 So.2d 191, 229 (Ala.Crim.App.2003).

"This Court held that the fundamental fairness mandated by the Due Process Clause does not require the trial court to approve funds for experts at a postconviction proceeding. Hubbard v. State, 584 So.2d 895, 900 (Ala.Crim.App.1991). Moreover, this Court has specifically held that Ake [v. Oklahoma, 470 U.S. 68 (1985), ] is not applicable in postconviction proceedings. Ford v. State, 630 So.2d 111, 112 (Ala.Crim.App.1991), aff'd, 630 So.2d 113 (Ala. 1993). See also Williams v. State, 783 So.2d 108 (Ala.Crim.App.2000), aff'd, 662 So.2d 929 (Ala. 1992)(table).
"McGahee's reliance on Ex parte Moody, 684 So.2d 114 (Ala. 1996), is misplaced. In Moody, the Alabama Supreme Court held that 'an indigent criminal defendant is entitled to an ex parte hearing on whether expert assistance is necessary, based on the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.' 684 So.2d at 120. As discussed above, for purposes of this proceeding, McGahee is not 'an indigent criminal defendant.' Instead, he is a convicted capital murderer who, in Rule 32 proceedings, is a civil petitioner with the burden of proving that he is entitled to relief on the grounds alleged in the petition he filed. Moody does not support McGahee's argument here. McGahee is not entitled to any relief on this claim of error. The trial court did not err when it denied an ex parte hearing on McGahee's request for funds."

McGahee v. State, 885 So.2d at 229. See also People v. Richardson, 189 Ill.2d 401, 422, 245 Dec. 109, 122, 727 N.E.2d 362, 375 (2000) ("Since a post-conviction petitioner does not have a constitutional right to appointed counsel ... there is no constitutional obligation to provide post-conviction counsel with investigative resources. ... Where no constitutional right is implicated, the decision to appoint an expert, or to authorize funds to hire an expert, rests within the sound discretion of the circuit court.").

         This Court has held that the provisions of Ake v. Oklahoma, do not apply to postconviction petitions or collateral petitions. The circuit court committed no error in denying both of White's motions for funds for experts to assist in the postconviction proceedings. White is due no relief on this claim.

         III.

         White next argues that the circuit court erred in summarily dismissing his claims that his trial counsel's performance at the penalty phase of his capital-murder trial was ineffective. He lists several grounds in support of this contention.

         To prevail on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, the petitioner must satisfy the two-pronged test articulated by the United States Supreme Court in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). The petitioner must show: (1) that counsel's performance was deficient, and (2) that he was prejudiced by the deficient performance. The Supreme Court in Strickland recognized that this test presents a mixed question of law and fact. 466 U.S. at 698.

"To sufficiently plead an allegation of ineffective assistance of counsel, a Rule 32 petitioner not only must 'identify the [specific] acts or omissions of counsel that are alleged not to have been the result of reasonable professional judgment,' Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 690, 104 S.Ct. 2052');">104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984), but also must plead specific facts indicating that he or she was prejudiced by the acts or omissions, i.e., facts indicating 'that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different.' 466 U.S. at 694, 104 S.Ct. 2052');">104 S.Ct. 2052. A bare allegation that prejudice occurred without specific facts indicating how the petitioner was prejudiced is not sufficient."

Hyde, 950 So.2d at 356.

Moreover,
"'[t]he claim of ineffective assistance of counsel is a general allegation that often consists of numerous specific subcategories. Each subcategory is an independent claim that must be sufficiently pleaded.' Coral v. State, 900 So.2d 1274, 1284 (Ala.Crim.App.2004), overruled on other grounds, Ex parte Jenkins, 972 So.2d 159 (Ala. 2005)."

Jackson v. State, 133 So.3d 420, 451 (Ala.Crim.App.2009).

         More importantly, the jury recommended, by a vote of 9 to 3, that White be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. In considering the prejudice prong of the Strickland test when a jury has not recommended the death penalty, we have stated:

"'"Appellant's contention that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel during the penalty phase of the trial is repudiated by the fact that the jury recommended life in this case. Lewis v. State, 398 So.2d 432 (Fla. 1981); Douglas v. State, 373 So.2d 895 (Fla. 1979)."'
"Hooks [v. State], 21 So.3d [772] at 791 [(Ala.Crim.App.2008)] (quoting Buford v. State, 492 So.2d 355, 359 (Fla. 1986)). See also Coleman v. State, 64 So.3d 1210, 1224 (Fla. 2011) ('This Court has repeatedly held that a defendant cannot demonstrate prejudice for counsel's failure to present mitigation to the jury, as opposed to the judge, when the jury recommended a life sentence.' (emphasis omitted))."

Spencer v. State, 201 So.3d 573, 613 (Ala.Crim.App.2015).

         "'Although petitioner's claim is that his trial counsel should have done something more, we first look at what the lawyer did in fact.'" Ray v. State, 80 So.3d 965, 979 (Ala.Crim.App.2011), quoting Chandler v. United States, 218 F.3d 1305, 1320 (11th Cir. 2000).[4]

         The record of White's penalty phase shows that Dr. Allen E. Shealy, a psychologist, testified that he interviewed White, that he reviewed White's numerous medical records, that he reviewed White's mental-health treatment records, that he reviewed White's school records, and that he conducted psychological testing on White. He testified that, after reviewing White's school records, he found that White had been diagnosed with a mental disorder at the age of four, that White had been in psychiatric hospitals on several occasions, and that White had been diagnosed with impulse-control disorders or with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ("ADHD") at the age of four. It was Dr. Shealy's opinion that White suffers difficulty controlling his impulses and that he has an "explosive disorder." (Trial R. 645.)

         Andrew White, White's adopted father, testified at the penalty phase that he and his wife adopted White when he was about eight months old. (Trial R. 662.)[5] He testified concerning the difficulty that he and his wife had in raising White.

         Stella White, White's adopted mother, testified that White was very active as a child and was diagnosed with ADHD when he was four years old and was given the medication Ritalin for that condition. She testified that between the ages of four through his high-school years he "virtually always" was under the care of psychiatrists or psychologists and that he saw at least six different psychiatrists and/or psychologists. (Trial R. 679.) At one time, she said, when White was in middle school White was "having a little bit of difficulty" so she took him to Children's Hospital's Emergency room. (Trial R. 680.) Stella further testified:

"After the psychiatrist talked to him, he said I can't let him go.
"He said, anytime I asked him about thoughts of suicide and if they say yes to those questions I have to admit him.
"....

         "He stayed in the mental hospital for ten days

and when we went to check on him, the doctor said
that the insurance company was not going to let them keep him. They only allow the first ten days.
"....
"So we had no choice but to take him home. And go back to the outpatient, you know, the outpatient
treatment. And do the medication and he was on lots of medications from the hospital.
"So we just kept doing that. Things didn't get any better. He really needed to stay in the hospital. It just didn't get any better."

(Trial R. 681-83.) Stella White further testified that White had problems with the fact that he was biracial and adopted.

         A.

         First, White argues that the circuit court erred in summarily dismissing his claim that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to present evidence of his mental illness at the penalty phase of his capital-murder trial.[6]

         In White's amended petition, he pleaded the following, in part:

"Defense counsel failed to adequately investigate the available evidence regarding [White's] struggles with substance dependence. Counsel failed to adequately investigate the manner in which Mr. White's substance dependence impacted his mental illness. Specifically, Mr. White's counsel failed to interview the available family members who had information concerning Mr. White's mental health history. Counsel did not interview Mr. White's biological family, including his mother, Beth Lorraine Crook, his two sisters, Bethany Crook and Caitlyn Crook, and his younger brother. Mr. White's counsel also failed to interview his three adopted siblings, Andrea White, Tiffani Hambrick, and Toosdhi White, each of whom lives in the state of Alabama. Counsel failed to interview Mr. White's extended family on both sides of his adopted family who reside in the state of Alabama. On his maternal side, counsel could have interviewed Horace Felder, Gale Felder Gilky, Valencia Felder, Jackie Felder, Albert Felder, Billie Felder, and Carolyn Felder. On Mr. White's paternal side, counsel could have interviewed Albert White, John White, James White, and Dorothy Jean Trammel. Each of these people were available and willing to talk at the time of trial and would have provided extensive information, and persuasive testimony, regarding Mr. White's history of mental illness.
"Mr. White's counsel failed to interview and present testimony from any of Mr. White's foster family, teachers, football coaches, or peers. Counsel could have interviewed a number of individuals, including the mother of his child, Brittany Taylor; his original foster parents, Ben and Patty Gordon; the Gordon's son Caleb; educators Kathy Long and Brian Cain; his former coaches; and former supervisors Kila Carlyle and Glenn Liemback. These witnesses were available and willing to talk at the time of trial and would have provided extensive and persuasive testimony about Mr. White's mental health issues."

(C. 275-76.)

         The circuit court made the following findings on this claim:

"While White has set forth many allegations supporting this claim in the first amended Rule 32 petition, the allegations are insufficiently pleaded. For instance, White contends that counsel failed to present evidence concerning his family's history of mental illness. However, White failed to specifically plead what the family history of mental illness is or how he was prejudiced by counsel's failure to present this evidence. White also asserts that his attorneys were ineffective because they failed to investigate his struggles with substance dependence and how his substance dependence affected his mental illness. White, however, fails to specifically plead what substance dependence he suffers from, what witnesses could testify to his substance dependence, or how specifically his substance dependence affected his mental illness. Finally, White asserts that his attorneys failed to interview and present testimony from his foster families, teachers, football coaches and peers concerning his mental illness. However, White fails to identify the names of these witnesses, what these unidentified witnesses would say about his mental condition, or how he was prejudiced because of counsel's failure to call these unidentified witnesses during the penalty phase of his trial. 'Conclusory allegations not supported by specifics do not warrant relief.' Thomas v. State, 766 So.2d 860, 889 (Ala.Crim.App.1998). This allegation fails to comply with the specificity and full factual pleading requirements of Rule 32.3 and 32.6(b), [Ala. R. Crim. P., ]; therefore, this claim is summarily dismissed from the first amended Rule 32 petition."

(C. 42-43.)

         On appeal, White argues that the circuit court erred in dismissing this claim because, he says, he fully complied with the pleading requirements of Rule 32.3, Ala. R. Crim. P. Specifically, he argues that he provided the names of five doctors who had previously treated White's mental condition and attached an affidavit from one of White's former psychologists. The State asserts that the mere attachment of an affidavit does not comply with the full-fact pleading requirements of Rule 32.3, Ala. R. Crim. P.

         "[A] Rule 32 petitioner is not required to include attachments to his or her petition in order to satisfy the pleading requirements in Rule 32.3 and Rule 32.6(b)[; however, ] when a petitioner does so, those attachments are considered part of the pleadings." Conner v. State, 955 So.2d 473, 476 (Ala.Crim.App.2006). In this case, however, there is no reference in the pleadings on this claim to the affidavit and the affidavit does not state what claim it was attached to support. (C. 274-84.) The five doctors White states he named in his postconviction petition were not identified in this section of White's petition but were merely named in the introductory section of the petition. (C. 197.) Also, White did not plead in his postconviction petition what these doctors could have testified to in regard to mitigation.

         "The 'notice pleading' requirements relative to civil cases do not apply to Rule 32 proceedings. Unlike the general requirements related to civil cases, the pleading requirements for postconviction petitions are more stringent. ...'" Washington v. State, 95 So.3d 26, 59 (Ala.Crim.App.2012) (quoting Daniel v. State, 86 So.3d 405, 410-11 (Ala.Crim.App.2011)).

"Rule 32.6(b), Ala. R. Crim. P., requires that full facts be pleaded in the petition if the petition is to survive summary dismissal. See Daniel [v. State, 86 So.3d 405 (Ala.Crim.App.2011)]. Thus, to satisfy the requirements for pleading as they relate to postconviction petitions, Washington was required to plead full facts to support each individual claim."

Washington v. State, 95 So.3d 26, 59 (Ala.Crim.App.2012) (emphasis added). "[T]he claim of ineffective assistance of counsel is a general allegation that often consists of numerous specific subcategories. Each subcategory is an independent claim that must be sufficiently pleaded." Coral v. State, 900 So.2d 1274, 1284 (Ala.Crim.App.2004), overruled on other grounds, Ex parte Jenkins, 972 So.2d 159 (Ala. 2005).

         Although White listed many individuals he said could have provided mitigation testimony, he failed to plead what each of those individuals could have presented. White also failed to specifically identify all of witnesses by name and instead identified them by their title, i.e., former coaches, teachers, or peers. "Specificity in pleading requires that the petitioner state both the name and the evidence that was in the witness's possession that counsel should have discovered, but for counsel's ineffectiveness." Daniel v. State, 86 So.3d 405, 422 (Ala.Crim.App.2011). "Conclusions unsupported by specific facts will not satisfy the requirements of Rule 32.3 and Rule 32.6(b). The full factual basis must be included in the petition itself." Hyde v. State, 950 So.2d at 356.

         Moreover, as set out above, one affidavit was attached to the postconviction petition; that affidavit was executed by Dr. Samuel Saxon, a clinical psychologist. Dr. Saxon stated that he had treated White when he was young and that White had been diagnosed with ADHD and impulse-control issues. (C. 404.) However, the evidence in this affidavit was presented at White's sentencing hearing.

         White's trial counsel presented evidence of his mental illness at his sentencing hearing through the testimony of Dr. Shealy and White's adopted mother. In fact, the mitigation evidence was so persuasive that the jury recommended a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Stella White testified, in depth, concerning their struggles in raising White because of his mental problems and said that White had been diagnosed with ADHD when he was four years old. Dr. Shealy testified that White had ADHD and impulse-control problems.

         Dr. Saxon's testimony was cumulative of testimony that White's trial counsel did ...


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