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Name: Amado v. Gonzalez
Case #: 11-56420
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 07/11/2014
Summary

Petitioner convicted of aiding and abetting murder is entitled to a new trial because the prosecution violated its duty under Brady v. Maryland to disclose material impeachment evidence. Opinion and dissent filed October 30, 2013 withdrawn (734 F.3d 936). Amado was convicted in 1998 of aiding and abetting a gang-related murder on a public bus. After the jury verdict in the case, the defense obtained a probation report on the prosecution’s star witness, Hardy, that reflected he had been a member of a rival gang, had a robbery conviction, and was on probation. The prosecution had not disclosed this impeachment material to the defense. Amado moved for a new trial based on Brady v. Maryland (1963) 373 U.S. 83. The trial court denied the motion and the California Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that procedural requirements for moving for a new trial under Penal Code section 1181(8) had not been met because Amado’s trial attorney had not exercised due diligence in discovering the information. The federal district court denied Amado’s habeas petition and he sought review. Held: Reversed. Because the state Court of Appeal failed to consider Amado’s Brady claim, no deference was given to its conclusion that Amado was not entitled to a new trial. Under Brady, the prosecution must disclose exculpatory evidence to the defense, which includes impeachment evidence. In relying on section 1181, the state court found Amado’s trial attorney was not duly diligent in discovering the evidence. But the “Supreme Court has not tempered the Brady obligation by imposing a due diligence standard on defense counsel”; the prosecution has a broad duty of disclosure, which it violated here. Hardy was the only eyewitness who testified Amado came to the scene of the crime with a weapon. There is a reasonable probability that the suppressed information would have resulted in a different outcome, as it would have cast doubt on his testimony that was critical to Amado’s conviction.