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Name: Varghese v. Uribe
Case #: 11-55686
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 06/26/2013
Summary

State court decision upholding trial court’s order, which conditioned defense access to, and testing of, limited blood evidence on the disclosure of test results to prosecution, was not an unreasonable application of federal law under AEDPA. Petitioner was charged with the 2003 stabbing death of his wife’s lover. A blood sample gathered at the scene of the killing was found to contain petitioner’s DNA. The defense asked for the blood sample to conduct an independent test. Because the defense test would likely consume all of the remaining sample, the trial court conditioned the defense testing on disclosure of the results to the prosecution, which was interested in corroborating its earlier results. The defense declined. Petitioner was convicted of first degree murder. Following his state appeal, he sought federal habeas relief, claiming that the trial court’s order violated his constitutional rights to effective counsel and due process. The district court denied the petition. Held: Affirmed. As relevant here, under AEDPA, federal courts may only grant habeas relief to defendants in state custody if the state court’s decision was contrary to, or was an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law, as determined by the United States Supreme Court. Here, no Supreme Court case squarely addresses the issue or establishes a principle that clearly extends to the circumstances of this case. The cases relied upon by petitioner do not clearly extend to his claim. Nor did the trial court’s order unconstitutionally require petitioner to choose between his right to have defense counsel conduct a reasonable investigation and his right to maintain that degree of privacy relative to counsel’s representation required for effective counsel.