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Name: Musladin v. Lamarque
Case #: 03-16653
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 10/21/2005
Subsequent History: Cert granted 4/17/06: 05-785

A defendant’s constitutional rights to due process and a fair trial were violated when trial spectators were permitted to wear buttons depicting the homicide “victim” in view of the jury. At trial the defendant had requested that the spectators be asked not to wear the buttons, but the judge denied that request. The California appellate courts affirmed, but the Ninth Circuit held that permitting the spectators to wear the buttons was an unreasonable application of clearly established federal constitutional law. The defendant claimed that the killing occurred in self defense, and thus the actions of the spectators in deeming the deceased a “victim” served to brand the defendant with an unmistakable mark of guilt. He was thus entitled to habeas relief. A dissent from the denial of rehearing en banc pointed out that the majority opinion relied primarily on the Ninth Circuit opinion in Norris v. Risley (9th Cir. 1990) 918 F.2d 828, and that the California decision was not contrary to clearly established federal constitutional law as determined by the United States Supreme Court.