US v. Chase, No. 06-30242 (8-27-07). The 9th sent a strong message to district courts that sentencing hearings are important, and that the defense must be given the means to contest government allegations. This was a meth case. The defendant said he only produced 40 grams of meth for personal use; the government expert said, theoretically, that upwards of 600 grams could be produced with the glassware found. The issue was hotly contested but the court denied defendant's request for an expert. Instead, the court asked the government witness to pretend he was a defense witness. The government witness, to his credit, said he could not. The 9th stressed that the defendant had to be afforded the means and chance to defend himself in sentencing hearings, and that the court and system would have benefitted from such an expert. There was prejudice because how the amount was calculated was susceptible to different interpretations. The 9th (Ferguson joined by Pregerson and Ikuta) also found that the sentence was based on insufficient data to justify the amount of drugs. A very good opinion for the procedures and process of sentencing.
Congratulations to AFPD John Rhodes of the D. Mont. for the win.
Bryant v. Arizona Atty General, No. 06-16138 (8-27-07). Petitioner argued that the statute of limitations under AEDPA had to be statutorily and equitably tolled because the prison failed to provide him with case law interpreting 28 USC 2244. The 9th affirmed the dismissal, finding that the petitioner had access to the case law on a date at least one year before he filed his petition and thus was out of luck. The 9th does recount how the Arizona prison system has a limited number of copies of the statutes, and that after 1997, the system went to paralegals who could get materials but could not conduct research. Still, at the facility where he was, he had such access and failed to file.