Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Godoy v. Spearman, No. 13-56024 (6-30-17)(en banc: Fisher). Sitting en banc, the 9th reversed the district court's denial of a habeas petition alleging juror misconduct during a California murder trial.

The petitioner was convicted of second degree murder. At sentencing, the petitioner presented a declaration from an alternate juror that one juror, during trial, was in continuous contact with supposedly a friend who was a "Judge up north." The juror would ask the friend questions, and gave the responses to the jurors. The state courts denied relief, or even a hearing, as did the district court, because the petitioner failed to show prejudice. 
The 9th reversed the denial. The 9th states that the state court's refusal to hold a hearing and to require the state to rebut the presumption of prejudice violated clearly established Supreme Court precedent.  The state and the court all agree that juror misconduct was raised. It is not enough to assume no prejudice from the evidence of misconduct; a presumption of prejudice attached and the State had to rebut it.

The decision is here:



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