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Name: Parle v. Runnels
Case #: 02-16896
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 11/01/2004
Subsequent History: 5/16/05: cert. den.

The admission into evidence of a homicide victim’s diary under Evidence Code section 1370 did not violate clearly-established federal law as determined by the Supreme Court. The defendant was convicted of murdering his wife, in part based on statements the victim made in her diary. After first finding that Crawford v. Washington (2004) 124 S.Ct. 1354 did not bar admission of the diary because the evidence was nontestimonial, the Ninth Circuit held that the district court erred in granting the petition for writ of habeas corpus, because the California appellate court’s determination that the diary was reliable did not violate clearly-established federal law. The state court focused its inquiry on the reliability of the statements, as required by the confrontation clause as interpreted by the Supreme Court. Further, to the extent that the trial court erred in limiting the defendant’s testimony on his own behalf, the error was harmless. Although the state conceded on appeal that the prosecutor’s hearsay objections to the defendant’s testimony were frivolous, the evidence of the defendant’s guilt was sufficient that the reviewing court harbored no grave doubts regarding the verdict.