Monday, March 17, 2014

Roger Murray v. Schriro, No. 08-99013 (Rawilinson with Bybee and Ikuta) --- The Ninth Circuit affirmed the denial of an Arizona death-row prisoner's federal habeas petition.  (Roger and Robert Murray are brothers, and these opinions relate to the same crime.)

After conducting an independent review of the news media reports about the case, see Daniels v. Woodford, 428 F.3d 1181, 1210 (9th Cir. 2005), the Ninth Circuit held that the state supreme court did not unreasonably conclude that the petitioner did not suffer prejudice from the media coverage of the case, most of which was either about the death penalty in general or confined to straightforward, factual reports of the crime itself.  "There was no inflammatory barrage of information that would be inadmissible at trial."

Young, poor men are not a distinctive "cross-section" of the community that must be affirmatively represented in the jury pool.  The petitioner's claim that the jury pool did not include enough Christians was unexhausted and meritless.  The petitioner failed to explain how his due-process rights were violated when the trial court denied his request to view the crime scene for a second time, more than a year after the crime had taken place, and after the scene had been cleaned.  There was no due-process violation stemming from the failure to instruct the jury on the theory of voluntary intoxication or on a lesser degree of homicide.  The state supreme court properly weighed all of the petitioner's mitigating evidence as required by the Eighth Amendment.  Even if it did not do so because it applied a causal-nexus requirement in violation of Tennard v. Dretke, 542 U.S. 274 (2004), the error was harmless because the state supreme court determined that none of the mitigating evidence was substantial enough to warrant leniency.  The petitioner's disagreement with counsel's strategy at the penalty phase was not an irreconcilable conflict implicating the Sixth Amendment right to counsel; thus, this procedurally defaulted claim was insubstantial and not the proper subject of a remand under Martinez v. Ryan, 132 S. Ct. 1309 (2012).  Even though witnesses recalled that trial counsel may have taken an occasional "catnap" during trial, the state post-conviction court's rejection of his claim of ineffective assistance was not based on an unreasonable determination of the facts.

Finally, the panel rejected the petitioner's Batson claim for the same reasons as in Robert Murray v. Schriro.

The opinion is here:



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