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Name: Fields v. Brown
Case #: 00-99006
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 12/08/2005

The court affirmed the district court’s denial of a capital habeas petition as to the petitioner’s conviction and reversed his grant of the petition as to the sentence. The panel affirmed the district court’s fact findings, after an evidentiary hearing on remand, that a juror did not intentionally mislead the trial court on voir dire, had no discussions with his wife during the trial that affected his ability to be fair and impartial, and was not actually biased. The panel held that the petitioner’s claim that the juror was impliedly biased was not barred by the rule of Teague v. Lane against retroactive application by a federal court of a new rule of constitutional law; nonetheless, bias could not be inferred as a matter of law solely because the juror was the spouse of a rape victim. The court also held that counsel was not ineffective in failing to question the juror further. As to the penalty phase, court held that the prosecutor did not commit misconduct during closing argument. The panel reversed the district court’s grant of relief on the petitioner’s claim of juror misconduct based on the jury’s use of Biblical quotations and dictionary definitions. It held that this claim was not Teague-barred. Nonetheless, the Biblical references were not necessarily extrinsic, factual material, and to the extent that the material was extrinsic or improper, it did not have a substantial and injurious effect on the verdict.