Thursday, March 31, 2005

Insyxiengmay v. Morgan

No. 02-36017 (3-30-05). The 9th (Reinhardt) reversed the denial of a petition and remanded. The petitioner was convicted in the State of Washington for two counts of first degree murder related to a shooting. The petitioner, 15 at the time, was a gang member, and when his gang house was egged, he and others took after the car (high schoolers pulling a prank). The question became who was the shooter. The petitioner denied it was him; others said it was after they entered into a plea. There was also an informant who gave information that resulted in an arrest of other co-defendants. The defense was not allowed to question the informant, or even to know his name, and was precluded from even submitting written questions. The court held an in camera hearing, with the prosecutor and police officer witness, and determined that the information wasn't necessary. Even the state courts found this to be error, but denied relief on prejudice grounds. The 9th would have none of that, holding that the information was especially critical because the informant was a gang member (!), and could give highly relevant information. The state's arguments that the record wasn't fully developed was laughable because counsel did all anyone could do in trying to question the witness and develop the record. The 9th also made short shrift of the state's efforts to find that the petition was precluded because of time (the mailbox rule came into play), and exhaustion.
Congrats to AFPDs Nancy Tenny and Laura Made of the FPD, W.D. Wa (Seattle).


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