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Name: In re Martinez
Case #: S226596
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 12/04/2017

On petition for writ of habeas corpus, Chiu error requires reversal unless the reviewing court finds beyond a reasonable doubt that the jury actually relied on a legally valid theory in convicting defendant of first degree murder. Martinez was convicted of first degree murder after the jury was instructed on both direct aiding and abetting and natural and probable consequence theories, based on his participation in a killing perpetrated by the codefendant. His conviction was affirmed on appeal. Martinez filed a habeas petition after the California Supreme Court held in People v. Chiu (2014) 59 Cal.4th 155, that a natural…

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Name: People v. Forest
Case #: A148330
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 10/25/2017

Petition for writ of error coram vobis denied where petitioner's "new facts" were actually legal opinions. In 2006 Forest was charged with assault with a deadly weapon (Pen. Code, § 245, subd. (a)(2)). He was bound over after a preliminary hearing. His Penal Code section 995 motion to dismiss the charge was denied. However, prior to trial, the prosecution moved to dismiss the charge based on insufficient evidence and the trial court granted the motion. Forest's subsequent petition for a finding of factual innocence (Pen. Code, § 851.8, subd. (c)) was denied and his appeal from that decision was unsuccessful.…

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Name: Rodriguez v. McDonald
Case #: 12-56594
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 09/29/2017

Federal habeas relief warranted where state court unreasonably determined police honored petitioner's invocation of right to counsel during interrogation when he was fourteen years old. When he was fourteen years old, a California jury found Rodriguez guilty of second degree murder and attempted murder based on allegations that he participated in a drive-by shooting. Gang and firearm enhancements were found true. On appeal, Rodriguez challenged the denial of his motion to suppress evidence of his confession on the ground that it was obtained in violation of Miranda. The Court of Appeal affirmed, finding police ceased questioning after defendant invoked his…

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Name: Gonzalez v. Sherman
Case #: 14-56855
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 10/11/2017

In California, a court's award of additional presentence credits to a prisoner creates a new, intervening judgment that the prisoner may challenge in a federal habeas petition without the petition being denied as "second or successive" under AEDPA. In 2001, Gonzalez was convicted of four counts of attempted murder. His conviction was affirmed on direct appeal. He filed a series of state and federal writ petitions but failed to secure relief. In 2013, he filed a motion to correct his presentence custody credits. The state trial court granted additional credits and ordered the preparation of an amended abstract of judgment.…

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Name: Smith v. Williams
Case #: 15-16967
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 09/08/2017

Statute of limitations for filing federal habeas petition in criminal case begins anew when amended judgment is filed, even if it only reinstates previously vacated convictions. In 1997, Smith was convicted in Nevada of first degree murder and other offenses. His direct appeal was unsuccessful. He filed a series of state and federal habeas petitions, which also failed. In 2007, he filed a third state habeas petition arguing he was entitled to relief based on an intervening decision of the Nevada Supreme Court. The trial court agreed, vacated Smith's convictions for murder and attempted murder, and filed an amended judgment.…

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Name: Browning v. Baker
Case #: 15-99002
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 09/20/2017

State court unreasonably applied U.S. Supreme Court precedent in denying capital defendant's claim of prosecutorial misconduct under Brady. Browning was sentenced to death after a jury found him guilty of four crimes related to the robbery and murder of a jewelry store owner. The prosecution's case depended in large part on the testimony of a witness (Randy) who claimed defendant asked him to help cover up the murder. The defense theory was that Randy's Cuban friend was the true killer. After the Nevada Supreme Court affirmed his convictions, Browning sought state and federal habeas relief on prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective…

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Name: In re Miller
Case #: B278902
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 08/25/2017

In habeas corpus proceeding, defendant's robbery-murder special circumstance finding reversed for insufficient evidence that he acted with "reckless indifference to human life." In 2002, Miller was convicted as an aider and abettor of the first degree felony murder of Franco and the robbery of Saravia. The jury found true a robbery special circumstance (Pen. Code, § 190.2, subd. (a)(17)(A)). Miller was sentenced to LWOP. His conviction was affirmed on direct appeal. After the California Supreme Court decided People v. Banks (2015) 61 Cal.4th 788, Miller filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus challenging the sufficiency of the evidence supporting…

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Name: Grant v. Swarthout
Case #: 13-55584
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 07/07/2017

Federal habeas petitioner entitled to equitable tolling of the AEDPA statute of limitations where he acted diligently while waiting for a prison account certificate from his prison counselor. Grant filed a pro se federal habeas petition challenging his state first degree murder conviction. The state moved to dismiss the petition as barred by the AEDPA one-year statute of limitations. Grant argued he was entitled to equitable tolling from the time he requested a certificate showing the amount of money in his prison account (which was required for him to file his petition in forma pauperis) until the time he received…

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Name: Davila v. Davis
Case #: 16-6219
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 06/26/2017
Subsequent History: 137 S.Ct. 2058

In federal habeas proceedings, Martinez v. Ryan (2012) 566 U.S. 1 exception excusing procedural default of trial-IAC claims does not extend to claims of appellate-IAC. After the trial court overruled a defense objection to a jury instruction, Davila was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. In his federal habeas petition, Davila argued his state appellate attorney was ineffective for failing to raise the instructional issue on direct appeal. Although Davila had not raised this claim in his state habeas petition, he argued this failure should be excused because it resulted from his state habeas attorney's ineffective assistance (IAC). After…

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Name: Hall v. Haws
Case #: 14-56159
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 07/03/2017

Extraordinary circumstances warranted reopening of habeas petitioner's case under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(6) in light of petitioner's belief that he was jointly pursuing relief in codefendant's habeas proceedings, where relief was granted. Following a joint trial, Hall and codefendant Sherrors were convicted of first degree murder. After exhausting state court remedies on a claim of instructional error, Hall filed a pro se habeas petition in federal court. Because the petition contained one unexhausted claim, the district court ordered Hall to voluntarily dismiss his petition or file a notice of abandonment of the unexhausted claim. Hall failed to do…

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