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Name: Anderson v. Gipson
Case #: 16-15338
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 09/06/2018

Petitioner entitled to federal habeas relief where his behavior at trial raised a "bona fide doubt" as to his competence to stand trial but the state trial court failed to order a competency hearing sua sponte. Anderson was convicted of spousal battery and other offenses in California after he assaulted his girlfriend. Prior serious felonies were found true and he was sentenced to 54 years to life under the Three Strikes law. His convictions were affirmed in state court and he exhausted his state remedies. He filed a federal writ petition challenging the trial court's failure to order a competency…

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Name: Martinez v. Cate
Case #: 15-16433
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 09/11/2018

Petitioner was entitled to federal habeas relief because the California Court of Appeal unreasonably applied clearly established federal law in concluding a detective honored the petitioner's request for counsel during a custodial interrogation. Martinez and a codefendant were arrested after the shooting death of a rival gang member. In the interview room, the detective read Martinez his Miranda rights and Martinez invoked his right to have an attorney present. The detective said he would be unable to contact his attorney at that time and, because Martinez wanted his attorney present, the detective said he had no other option but to…

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Name: Henry v. Spearman
Case #: 17-70170
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 08/06/2018

Prisoner challenging California's second degree murder rule as unconstitutionally vague under Johnson v. United States (2015) 135 S.Ct. 2551 may file a second or successive federal habeas petition. In 1996, Henry was convicted in California state court of second degree murder and discharge of a firearm at an inhabited dwelling. The jury was instructed it could convict Henry of murder based on the second degree felony murder rule, which imputes the requisite malice from the commission of a felony that, viewed in the abstract, is "inherently dangerous." Henry previously filed an unsuccessful federal habeas corpus petition. In 2017, Henry filed…

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Name: Ross v. Williams
Case #: 16-16533
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 07/19/2018

Defendant's untimely amended federal habeas petition, which relied upon facts set forth in an order attached to his original petition, did not relate back to the timely petition and was therefore properly dismissed. Ross was convicted of various theft-related offenses in Nevada. He had five prior felony convictions and received a life sentence. After his direct appeal and state writ petition resulted in affirmance of the conviction, he filed a timely federal petition for writ of habeas corpus. After the AEDPA deadline passed, he filed an amended petition, arguing his new claims arose out of facts contained in a state…

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Name: Sexton v. Beaudreaux
Case #: 17-1106
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 06/28/2018
Subsequent History: 138 S.Ct. 2555

Federal habeas relief reversed where Ninth Circuit did not properly apply the AEDPA standard for evaluating state court judgments with no reasoned decision on the merits. Beaudreaux was found guilty of first degree murder and robbery in California State court. His conviction was affirmed on direct appeal and his state habeas petitions were summarily denied. He filed a federal habeas petition, which the district court denied. The Ninth Circuit reversed. The court mainly conducted a de novo analysis of the merits of a would-be motion to suppress pretrial identification evidence, based in part on arguments and theories that…

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Name: In re Ruedas
Case #: G054523
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 05/24/2018

Habeas petition presenting Sanchez issue denied because Sanchez does not apply retroactively to cases that were final before this change in the law. Ruedas was charged with various gang-related offenses and enhancements. At trial, an expert related testimonial hearsay to prove the gang charges, over defense objection. Ruedas was convicted and his case became final in 2015. In 2016, the California Supreme Court decided People v. Sanchez (2016) 63 Cal.4th 665, which held that expert testimony is subject to exclusion under the hearsay rule and confrontation clause. Ruedas filed a habeas petition seeking retroactive application…

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Name: Ellis v. Harrison
Case #: 16-56188
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 06/07/2018

Where habeas petitioner did not know about trial counsel's racist beliefs until after his case was final, his ineffective-assistance-of-trial-counsel claim failed because he did not show the racism adversely affected the attorney's performance. Ellis and a codefendant were charged with a 1989 murder, attempted murder, and robbery of two men at a McDonald's drive-through window. Two trials ended in mistrials and two trials in hung juries. Ellis' fifth trial resulted in a special circumstance murder conviction. His case became final in 1996. Years later, Ellis sought habeas relief, arguing that he received constitutionally ineffective assistance of counsel because his trial…

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Name: Wilson v. Sellers
Case #: 16-6855
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 04/17/2018
Subsequent History: 138 S.Ct. 1188

A federal habeas court reviewing an unexplained state court decision on the merits should "look through" to the last reasoned decision and presume the unexplained decision adopted the same reasoning, unless the State rebuts the presumption. In this death case, Wilson sought habeas relief in the Georgia Superior Court on ineffective assistance of counsel grounds. The superior court denied his petition, finding no deficient performance and no prejudice. Wilson sought a certificate of probable cause to appeal the decision, which the Georgia Supreme Court denied without explanation. On federal habeas review, the district court deferred to the state superior court's…

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Name: In re Figueora
Case #: S111336
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 03/12/2018

Murder conviction and death sentence reversed where defendant's conviction was based on false expert evidence. Defendant was convicted of substantive sexual offenses and the special circumstance murder of a 21-month-old child. His convictions and death sentence were affirmed on direct appeal. In response to defendant's petition for writ of habeas corpus alleging that his convictions rested on false evidence and that he received ineffective assistance of counsel, the court issued an order to show cause. Respondent conceded that false evidence was introduced at defendant's trial and that the sexual offense convictions, special circumstance findings, and death sentence must be reversed,…

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Name: Kernan v. Cuero
Case #: 16–1468
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 11/06/2017
Subsequent History: 138 S.Ct. 4

After a California trial court permitted the prosecution to amend a criminal complaint to which the defendant had pleaded guilty, U.S. Supreme Court precedent did not clearly require the trial court to impose the lower sentence that the parties originally expected. Cuero pleaded guilty to two felony offenses and admitted he had served four separate prison terms, one of which was a strike offense. His maximum punishment based on the plea was 14 years and 4 months in prison. Before Cuero's sentencing hearing, the prosecution determined that another of Cuero's four prior convictions qualified as a strike and that…

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