Friday, September 15, 2017

Atwood v. Ryan, No. 14-99002 (9-13-17)(Ikuta w/McKeown & Callahan)(Note:  This is an Az FPD case).  The 9th affirmed the denial of petitioner's capital habeas claims. AEDPA, as usual, cast its "state court's reasonableness" pall over the decision.

Petitioner had a prior conviction for lewd and lascivious conduct.  It was punishable, at the time of the offense, by life imprisonment.  Subsequently, the state legislature reduced the term of imprisonment.  This reduction meant, argued petitioner, that this conviction was improperly used as an aggravator.  As such, the class was of defendants was broader than required under capital jurisprudence and thus arbitrary. The 9th rejected this contention, finding that the state court's interpretation of future dangerousness or proclivity was reasonable.

The 9th also rejected the argument for an evidentiary hearing on police misconduct.  The contention that the police planted evidence (actually a paint smear on the bumper) was not, to the court, credible enough for a hearing.  The 9th agreed.

There was no IAC in the forensic approach as to time of death; nor IAC in the failure to present mental health evidence in the sentencing phase.  The 9th explained that counsel's concern that such evidence might open doors to an unfavorable diagnosis was a legitimate decision.  The petitioner also supposedly did not want such evidence presented.

On the Martinez claim, the 9th found no IAC by the state PCR counsel.

The decision is here:


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