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Name: Menendez v. Terhune
Case #: 03-55863
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 09/07/2005
Summary

The appellate court affirmed the district court’s denial of Lyle and Erik Menendezes’ petitions for habeas corpus. The panel held that: (1) the admission of a tape-recorded session between petitioners and their therapist did not violate petitioners’ constitutional due process rights, and the Supreme Court’s holding in Ake v. Oklahoma (1985) 480 U.S. 68, was inapplicable because petitioners’ sanity at the time of the offense was never seriously contemplated to be a part of the defense or significant at trial; (2) an instruction on imperfect self-defense was not warranted under California law and the trial court’s decision not to give the instruction did not violate petitioners’ rights to due process; (3) the trial court did not violate petitioners’ Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination or Sixth Amendment rights to present a defense by excluding certain evidence, including lay and expert testimony which could have explained why petitioners feared their parents because petitioners did not lay a foundation by testifying about their belief of imminent danger; (4) Lyle Menendez’s due process rights were not violated when the prosecutor commented on the lack of evidence regarding abuse and the lack of experts, both of which the prosecutor had successfully moved to exclude because the comments were within the bounds of professional conduct and did not render the trial unfair.