Friday, March 16, 2012

Phillips v. Ornoski, No. 04-99005 (3-16-12) (Reinhardt with B. Fletcher; partial dissent by Kleinfeld).

In this capital petition, the 9th excoriates the prosecutor for wilfully misleading the jury and withholding evidence as to a special circumstance that may have impacted the death verdict. Although the "deceptive ruse" did not affect the guilt verdict, and the denial of the petitioner's claims related to them was affirmed, the 9th did vacate the death sentence. The issues revolved around what the motive was for the killing, and the hidden information were benefits received by the cooperating witness. Kleinfeld dissents from the sentence relief, arguing that it was harmless given the overwhelming evidence and the testimony of a surviving witness.


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