Rainwater Law Group

Effective Criminal Defense

Godoy v. Spearman, No. 13-56024 [August 25, 2016]

Godoy v. Spearman

The Court stated the issue as “whether a state appellate court’s affirmance of a conviction for second-degree murder, along with its denial of a request for an evidentiary hearing and for a continuance, were contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal constitutional law.” Godoy sought a new trial based on juror misconduct in that one of the jurors texted for advice during the deliberations with a “judge up North.” Based on the Ninth’s decision in Tarango v. McDaniel, 815 F.3d 1211, even though Judge O’Scannlain questions the validity of that decision, the Court found that Godoy was entitled to a presumption of prejudice, based on the communication, under clearly established federal law. The Court found that California Court of Appeal’s analysis did not unreasonably apply clearly established federal law by concluding the government had rebutted the presumption. Godoy and the dissent argued that because the court did not “take testimony” or introduce additional contrary evidence that they had not met their burden. The majority held that there is no requirement that the government present affirmative evidence to rebut the presumption. The Court further analyzed the facts and determined the Court of Appeal’s decision did not constitute an unreasonable determination of the facts. Finally, the court rejected Godoy’s claim that the trial court’s failure to grant him an additional evidentiary hearing or a continuance unreasonably applied clearly established federal law. The Court held that federal law does not require a hearing in every case of potential juror bias and deferred to the trial court’s broad discretion in determining whether to grant a continuance.

blog comments powered by Disqus