Remand required where district court failed to review relevant portions of the state court record before denying federal habeas petition. Nasby was convicted of murder and conspiracy in Nevada. The state court affirmed the convictions on direct appeal. After unsuccessfully challenging his convictions in state collateral proceedings, Nasby filed a federal habeas petition. (28 U.S.C. § 2254.) The district court denied the petition without reviewing the relevant portions of the state record and relied solely on the Nevada Supreme Court’s statement of facts. Held: Reversed and remanded. “[M]eaningful collateral review of the state court’s adjudication of petitioner’s claims requires an independent assessment of the basis for the state court’s decision. Without such an independent assessment, the district court would be unable to determine whether the state court adjudication rested on an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law or an unreasonable determination of fact.” (Internal citations and quotations omitted.) In Jones v. Wood (9th Cir. 1997) 114 F.3d 1002, the court held that reversal was required where the district court dismissed a petition without obtaining the record of the state proceedings or developing its own factual record. Five other circuits have reached the same conclusion and held that remand is necessary. The State argued that AEDPA prevents a federal habeas court from reviewing the record and instead requires the federal court to accept the state court’s description of facts on faith. The court concluded that “[t]his is clearly wrong.” The district court here erred by ruling on the merits of Nasby’s claims without first requiring the State to submit all relevant portions of the state record. The case must be remanded for the district court to obtain the record, examine it, and newly adjudicate Nasby’s petition.
The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2017/04/10/14-17313.pdf