On November 9, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in the case of Bobby v. Van Hook (No. 09–144) and issued a per curiam opinion overturning a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which had granted Robert Van Hook a new sentencing hearing based on ineffectiveness of counsel. Van Hook had been convicted and sentenced to death for a murder committed in 1985 following an encounter in a bar. The Supreme Court held that, judging by professional standards existing at the time of Van Hook’s trial (rather than by more recent American Bar Association standards), the attorneys conducted an adequate investigation and provided sufficient representation. The Court said, “This is not a case in which the defendant’s attorneys failed to act while potentially powerful mitigating evidence stared them in the face, cf. Wiggins, or would have been apparent from documents any reasonable attorney would have obtained, cf. Rompilla v. Beard. It is instead a case, like Strickland itself, in which defense counsel’s ‘decision not to seek more’ mitigating evidence from the defendant’s background ‘than was already in hand’ fell ‘well within the range of professionally reasonable judgments.’” (citations omitted).

(Bobby v. Van Hook, No. 09–144 (U.S., cert. granted and decided Nov. 9, 2009)). See Supreme Court and Representation.