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Name: In re Freeman
Case #: S122590
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 05/16/2006

In evaluating a habeas petitioner’s allegations, the reviewing court gives great weight to a referee’s findings that are supported by substantial evidence. Petitioner filed a habeas writ alleging the prosecutor improperly exercised peremptory challenges in his death penalty case on the basis of religion at the suggestion of the trial judge. The petition was supported by a declaration from the prosecutor in his case. The California Supreme Court issued an order to show cause and an evidentiary hearing was held at which a referee found the judge did not direct the prosecutor to excuse Jewish jurors. The referee determined the prosecutor’s claims were not credible. The Supreme Court affirmed and discharged the order to show cause. The Court agreed with the referee that the prosecutor was lying about the allegations. The prosecutor, had a motive to lie because of his animosity towards the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. Moreover, there was no evidence that the excused jurors were actually Jewish. Thus, petitioner failed to prove the allegations regarding judicial collusion with the prosecution.