McKnight v. Torres, No. 08-55459 (4-20-09). Can a plea agreement be lost in translation? The defendant entered into a plea agreement with the US Atty regarding ecstasy trafficking. The defendant was also wanted by the French, and France requested extradition. The defendant's plea agreement with the US Atty granted immunity for his cooperation proffer. The language, though, explicitly stated it was for any prosecution by US Attorneys. The defendant thought this would apply to the French, but the information was handed over. Defendant brought this habeas challenge, arguing that the US Attorney acted in bad faith. Not so, said the 9th (Hawkins joined by Berzon and Clifton). The plea's language explicitly stated that it only bound US Attorneys. The 9th goes on to warn US Attorneys that they should expect in extradition cases and in pleas that language will now be requested to cover foreign jurisdictions.
Townsend v. Knowles, No. 07-15712 (4-21-09). Win the battle, lose the war. The petitioner followed the rules in his post-conviction challenge to his state second degree murder conviction. While working his way up the state system, Payne came out from the Supremes, which changed the rules. Petitioner would have been out of luck, but the 9th said that he had relied upon 9th Circuit precedent and so should get equitable tolling. Fine, his petition gets heard, but the 9th then finds that the jury instruction on California felony murder was not contrary to the Constitution and there was not IAC.