Criminal Matters - Criminal Law - U.S. Ninth Circuit
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Criminal Matters

The Ninth Circuit issued five opinions, all dealing with criminal matters.  Three involved the capital murder conviction and sentence of the same defendant, and the other two concerned immigration issues.

In Rhoades v. Henry (Haddon), No. 07-35808, a capital habeas matter, the court of appeals affirmed the denial of petitioner Paul Rhoades' habeas petition on the grounds that 1) the deposition testimony and affidavits of both counsel supported the district court's finding that petitioner failed to show that defense counsel lacked the information contained in an allegedly withheld report; 2) petitioner pointed to no evidence that the judge was unable to preside over his case in a fair and impartial manner; and 3) petitioner offered insufficient authority to justify the application of a heightened standard of reliability to guilt phase issues.

In Rhoades v. Henry (Baldwin), No. 07-99022, the court of appeals affirmed the denial of Rhoades' petition pertaining to another murder victim, on the grounds that 1) an allegedly exculpatory confession by another witness was not reliable and was thus appropriately excluded; 2) there was no Brady violation when a defendant possessed the information that he claims was withheld; 3) defendant's statement that "I did it" came after his handcuffs were removed and while petitioner was being booked at the station, and in these circumstances no Mosley error occurred; and 4) the aggravating circumstances were too strong, and the new mitigating evidence added too little, to create a reasonable probability of a different outcome absent defense counsel's alleged ineffectiveness.

In Rhoades v. Henry (Michelbacher), No. 07-99023, the court of appeals affirmed the denial of Rhoades' petition as to another victim, holding that 1) no Brady violation could occur when a defendant possessed the information that he claims was withheld; 2) petitioner offered no support for his assertion that the district court should have held an evidentiary hearing on the Brady claim; and 3) it was not reasonably likely that a challenged instruction, in context of the instructions overall, caused the jury to misapply the state's burden of proof.

US v. Arias-Ordonez, No. 08-10259, involved a prosecution for reentry following removal from the U.S.  The court of appeals affirmed the dismissal of the indictment, holding that the order instructing defendant to report for removal misinformed him that he had no administrative remedies and he was never told that he had a right to reopen to seek voluntary departure.

In US v. Molina, No. 09-10066, the court of appeals affirmed defendant's sentence for transporting an illegal alien, on the grounds that 1) because there was no evidence of involuntariness, the district court properly admitted the hearsay evidence at defendant's sentencing hearing pursuant to a signed stipulation; and 2) the conflicting evidence weighed against a finding that defendant accepted responsibility for his actions.

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