Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510, 22 (2003)

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Cite as: 539 U. S. 510 (2003)

Opinion of the Court

learned of such incidents from the social services records. Wiggins v. State, 352 Md., at 608-609, 724 A. 2d, at 15.

The court's subsequent statement that, "as noted, counsel did investigate and were aware of appellant's background," underscores our conclusion that the Maryland Court of Appeals assumed counsel's investigation into Wiggins' childhood consisted of the PSI and the DSS records. The court's use of the phrase "as noted," which the dissent ignores, further confirms that counsel's investigation consisted of the sources previously described, i. e., the PSI and the DSS records. It is the dissent, therefore, that "rests upon a fundamental fallacy," post, at 544—that the Maryland Court of Appeals determined that Schlaich's investigation extended beyond the PSI and the DSS records.

We therefore must determine, de novo, whether counsel reached beyond the PSI and the DSS records in their investigation of petitioner's background. The record as a whole does not support the conclusion that counsel conducted a more thorough investigation than the one we have described. The dissent, like the State and the United States, relies primarily on Schlaich's postconviction testimony to establish that counsel investigated more extensively. But the questions put to Schlaich during his postconviction testimony all referred to what he knew from the social services records; the line of questioning, after all, first directed him to his discovery of those documents. His subsequent reference to "other people's reports," made in direct response to a question concerning petitioner's mental retardation, appears to be an acknowledgment of the psychologist's reports we know counsel commissioned—reports that also revealed nothing of the sexual abuse Wiggins experienced. App. 349. As the state trial judge who heard this testimony concluded at the close of the proceedings, there is "no reason to believe that [counsel] did have all of this information." Id., at 606 (emphasis added).


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