Thursday, May 01, 2014

Dixon v. Williams, No. 10-17145 (4-30-14) (per curiam with Noonan, Thomas, and Berzon). 
The 9th reverses and remands denial of a habeas challenge.  The 9th found that use of an erroneous self-defense instruction was error and not harmless.  The state case involved the petition who was threatened by gang members (one repeatedly with a box cutter), and during a fight, went and got a gun from his nearby car and shot and killed the victim.  He argued that he had a reasonable fear.  In the instruction on self-defense, the court said that it was not a defense if the defendant had an honest and reasonable" instead of "unreasonable"  fear.  Oops.  This was error, but the state courts found it harmless.  The 9th held such a conclusion was unreasonable, because of the evidence presented, and the possible lesser included offense (manslaughter) given.

Congrats to Randy Fiedler and Debra Bookout, AFPDs in the Nevada FPD (Las Vegas).


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