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Name: Brown v. Horell
Case #: 09-16643
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 07/12/2011
Summary

The conclusion that the state court decision was erroneous in denying suppression of the defendant’s statement does not result in relief in a federal habeas corpus proceeding unless the petitioner demonstrates that the erroneous ruling was the result of an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law as interpreted by the United States Supreme Court. A conviction for murder and attempted murder was based on evidence which included three interviews of the defendant in which he admitted shooting the victims. Brown moved to suppress the statements and an expert witness, Dr. Richard Ofshe, supported the motion with testimony about inducements to give false confessions. Threats and promises relating to one’s children carry special force and interrogators who use those techniques exert improper influence which results in involuntary, coerced confessions. The record supported Brown’s argument that the inducements involving his unborn child, his youth, limited education, lengthy interrogations, and the totality of circumstances rendered the admissions involuntary. Were the case on direct review, the statements would have been suppressed. However, the conclusion that the state court decision was erroneous does not result in relief. Brown failed to meet the exceedingly high bar set by the standard of review under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) by failing to demonstrate that the state court’s contrary conclusion was unreasonable. Likewise, the trial court’s refusal to allow Dr. Ofshe to give expert testimony at trial about false confessions involved a discretionary exclusion of evidence based on state evidentiary rules.