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Petitioner-Appellant Ron Chris Foster, a Mississippi death-row inmate, appeals the district court’s denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus brought under 28 U.S.C. � 2254 (1994 & Supp. V 1999). He raises three claims on appeal: (1) violation of his Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel on the ground that his counsel failed to investigate and to present available mitigating evidence, (2) violation of his Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel on the ground that his counsel failed to file a motion to transfer Foster’s case to juvenile court, and (3) violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments’ prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments on the ground that Mississippi does not mandate particularized findings regarding the “maturity and moral culpability” of defendants under eighteen years old before they may be tried and sentenced for a capital offense as an adult. The district court granted Foster’s request for a COA on the first claim, and he requests that this court grant COAs on the other two claims. For the following reasons, we (1) affirm the district court’s judgment denying Foster’s claim of ineffective assistance of counsel based on the failure to investigate and to present sufficient mitigating evidence, (2) grant a COA on the ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim based on the failure to file a motion to transfer to a juvenile court and then affirm the district court’s denial of habeas relief on that claim, and (3) deny Foster’s request for a COA on the Eighth Amendment claim.


On September 8, 1989, a Mississippi grand jury indicted Petitioner-Appellant Ron Chris Foster for the murder of George Shelton in the course of committing armed robbery, a capital offense in Mississippi. See Miss. Code Ann. � 97-3-19(2)(e) (2000).*fn1 Although Foster was only seventeen years old at the time of the alleged offense, and the Mississippi youth courts generally have exclusive jurisdiction over criminal cases brought against anyone under eighteen years of age, see Miss. Code Ann. �� 43-21-105(d), 43-21-151(1) (2000), the state district attorney prosecuted Foster as an adult pursuant to section 43-21-151 of the Mississippi Code, which provides that “[a]ny act attempted or committed by a child, which if committed by an adult would be punishable under state or federal law by life imprisonment or death, will be in the original jurisdiction of the circuit court” rather than the youth court, id. � 43-21-151(1)(a).

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