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Name: Ponce v. Felker
Case #: 08-56218
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 05/24/2010

The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Giles v. California (2008) 128 S.Ct. 2678, holding that the forfeiture by wrongdoing exception to the right of confrontation applies only if the defendant specifically intended to prevent the witness from testifying is a new rule of law that does not apply retroactively. At appellant’s trial for killing his ex-girlfriend, the court allowed two witnesses to testify about the victim’s statements and actions that suggested she feared appellant. The state court rejected appellant’s confrontation clause arguments based on the forfeiture by wrongdoing exception. After the federal district court denied habeas relief, Giles was decided. Appellant appealed the denial of the habeas, alleging the evidence did not show he made the victim unavailable to prevent her from testifying. Respondent argued Giles did not apply retroactively to appellant’s case and the Ninth Circuit agreed. Under Teague v. Lane (1989) 489 U.S. 288, the question was whether Giles established a new rule of criminal procedure or whether it restated an old rule. The court reviewed U.S. Supreme Court cases discussing the forfeiture by wrongdoing exception and held a new rule had been created because those cases did not require proof of specific intent to prevent witness testimony. So, Giles does not retroactively apply to appellant’s case.