Monday, December 13, 2010

Roberts v. Marshall, No. 08-55901 (12-13-10)(O'Scannlain with Gould and Ikuta). The 9th rules that a district court need not hold an evidentiary hearing regarding the petitioner's competency as to his ability to file a petition, or to avail himself of equitable tolling, when the record already is sufficient to make the determination. The petitioner pled to second-degree murder, and was sentenced to 15 years to life in June 2002. In November 2002, he began to challenge the conviction by raising IAC. The petitions continued over the next several years. On November 20, 2007, he filed a federal habeas alleging IAC, and attaching numerous mental health reports. The reports detailed mental health treatment and a regimen of psychotic medication to treat psychotic disorders. There were also reports of his mental health being good, fair, or within normal limits. Because the filing was outside by the AEDPA statute of limitations by several years, the petitioner argued for equitable tolling due to mental incompetence and asked for an evidentiary hearing. The allegation of incompetency so as to toll AEDPA usually gets a hearing. Not here. The district court denied equitable tolling and the hearing, ruling that the records indicated periods when he was competent and able to file his petition. On appeal, the 9th affirmed the district court's denial of the hearing, holding that such a hearing was not required when there was sufficient evidence or record available to make a judgment as to competency. "Where the record is amply developed, and where it indicates that the petitioner's mental incompetence was not so severe as to cause the untimely filing of his habeas corpus petition, a district court is not obligated to hold evidentiary hearings to further develop the factual record, notwithstanding a petitioner's allegations of mental incompetence." 19978.


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