U.S. Tenth Circuit - The FindLaw 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Murder-Related Habeas Matters

In Bunton v. Atherton, No. 09-1152, a murder prosecution, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the denial of petitioner's habeas petition, holding that 1) the state court of appeals did not unreasonably apply Strickland in determining that defense counsel made a reasonable strategic decision to forego a witness's testimony; 2) petitioner's claim was barred on an independent state procedural ground; and 3) the cumulative error doctrine did not apply because the court did not find the existence of two or more actual errors.

In Hooks v. Workman, No. 07-6152, a capital habeas matter, the Tenth Circuit reversed the denial of petitioner's habeas petition, on the grounds that 1) the Allen charge given by the trial court in the midst of penalty-phase deliberations, when considered in the context of all surrounding circumstances, coerced the jury into returning death sentences; and 2) the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals' decision to the contrary was an unreasonable application of Lowenfield v. Phelps, 484 U.S. 231 (1988).

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