Rainwater Law Group

Effective Criminal Defense

Copeland v Ryan, No. 16-15849 [March 28, 2017]

Copeland v. Ryan

The Respondent appealed an order of the district court requiring him to reimburse Mr. Copeland for deposition expenses incurred in his pending 2254 petition. First, the Court found it had jursidiction under the collateral order doctrine. Then the Court finds that a district court cannot order reimburse of an indigent habeas petition for disposition expense when the state did not request the deposition as it has no jurisdiction to do so. The district court’s use of Fed. Rules of C.P 15(d) was invalid as they do not apply 2254 habeas proceedings, as only Federal Rules of Civil Pro. apply. (Even though they do apply in 2255 petition by statute) The Court suggested that the expense were reimbursable under the CJA.


Cuero v Cate, No. 12-55911 [June 30, 2016]

Cuero v Cate

After entering into a plea agreement with Cuero charging him with one California strike, one day prior to sentencing, the DA filed an amended complaint alleging an additional prior strike, increasing his possible sentence from 14 years 4 months to 64 years to life. This was a violation of the plea agreement [“Cuero performed his part of the bargain only to have the state renege on its.”] and the remedy provide, i.e. withdrawal of his guilty plea and entering into a new plea agreement for 25 years to life was not sufficient to provide Cuero with his benefit of the original bargain. The state court violated clearly established Supreme Court law by denying Cuero the benefit of his bargain and the Court reversed the denial of his petition. [The majority describe Judge O’Scannlain’s dissenting arguments as “Absurd.”)

UPDATED: Rehearing was denied with a dissenting opinion. See here.


Robertson v Pichon, No. 15-16463 [March 2, 2017]

Robertson v. Pichon

Robertson challenges his convictions for DUI and possession of a billy club. Robertson was granted a COA on his claim that the trial court erred in admitted his statements, in violation of his Miranda rights, regarding the billy club they found in the trunk of his car. Robertson claims he invoked his rights after being requested to take a chemical test by stating “I want my attorney.” Later another officer asked him if the billy club in the car was his. Therefore, he argues that any subsequent questioning violated Edwards. The Court upheld the denial of the claim as the state court could have reasonably concluded that the request to submit to chemical testing did not constitute custodial interrogation. Further since, the Supreme Court has never authorized an anticpatory invocation of Miranda rights the state court did not unreasonable apply Supreme Court precedent in including his statements did not trigger any rights under Edwards. Additionally, it would not be unreasonable for a state court to find that his statement that he would not submit to chemical testing with a lawyer does not mean that he also wanted a lawyer for subsequent questioning. Other uncertified issues were also rejected.


Mahrt v. Beard, No. 15-16404 [March 1, 2017]

Mahrt v. Beard

Mahrt alleged that his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel was violated by his trial counsel’s failure to move to suppress the firearms and ammunition found in his room. The State argued that Mahrt’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim is not cognizable on federal habeas review because it rest upon an alleged constitutional violation that preceeded his guilty plea. Second, it argued that even if it was cognizable, the state court’s rejection of the claim was not contrary to or an unreasonable application of established law as determined by the Supreme Court. The court held that his claim is not barred as the general rule has an exception where a petition may challenge the voludntary and intelligent character of the guilty plea based on pre-plea ineffective assistance of counsel. The Court then denied the claim as the “state court could reasonably have concluded that Mahrt’s counsel did not provide ineffective assistance in failing to move to suppres the firearms and ammunition. While trial counsel should have moved to suppress the evidence as “[t]here was at least a chance tht such a motion would have succeeded” the court found that it would have been reasonable for the state courts to conclude that a motion to suppress, if brought, would likely have been denied. The state courts could reasonable have concluded that the search was justified under the “emergency aid” exception to the warrant requirement. The officer had reason to believe there may have been a victim in the area and were not required to believe that she had left based on Mahrt’s and another persons statements, therefore, they had reason to go into the room to look for a victim.


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