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Name: Hernandez v. Holland
Case #: 11-55337
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 04/24/2014

State court determination that a conversation between the defendant and a bailiff during a break in his jury trial was not an interrogation that required Miranda warnings was reasonable. Hernandez claimed an alibi defense to charges of murder, contending that he was 100 miles away at a party the night of the shooting, and that the key witness had misidentified him. During a recess in his trial, Hernandez spoke to Moore, the bailiff, making statements that implicated himself in the offense, including knowledge of details he could not have known if his alibi was true. Hernandez objected to Moore’s testimony, because Moore had not read him his Miranda rights before “interrogating” him. The trial court allowed Moore to testify, finding no Miranda violation because there was no custodial interrogation. Moore’s testimony placed Hernandez at the scene and bolstered the identification of Hernandez. The jury convicted Hernandez. The Court of Appeal affirmed. The federal district court denied habeas relief under AEDPA, holding that the appellate court on direct appeal did not apply Miranda unreasonably. The Ninth Circuit affirmed. While Moore did ask Hernandez if he was going to testify as Moore was escorting him from the courtroom, it was reasonable to find that Hernandez initiated a second conversation with Moore about a minute later about a witness’ testimony and volunteered the incriminating evidence. Additionally, it would be reasonable to conclude that the question was neutral and that Moore could not have known the question would elicit an incriminating response. Therefore, the state court’s finding that the conversation between Moore and Hernandez was not an “interrogation” and that there was no need for Miranda warnings was not objectively unreasonable under U.S. Supreme Court precedent.