Rainwater Law Group

Effective Criminal Defense

Crittenden v. Chappell, No. 13-17327 [October 26, 2015]

Crittenden v. Chappell

A state prisoner raises a claim under Batson v. Kentucky after being convicted in two murders in California. The district court, after a remand to consider the 9th decision in Cook v. LaMarque, held that the peremptory challenge was motivated in substantial part by race, regardless of whether the strike would have issued if race had played no role. On appeal the state argued that Cook should not be applied retroactively; the district court failed to apply deference as required by the AEDPA; the district court improperly rejected the magistrate judge’s credibility determination; and the district court erred in finding that “the prosecutor was substantially motivated by race.” The court held that Cook merely clarified the standard of proof for Batson claims and not a new rule and, therefore, was to be used retroactively. Secondly, the state court’s decision was not owed deference as it was contrary to clearly established federal law and the state court’s factual findings were rebutted by clear and convincing evidence. Third the district court did not reject any of the magistrate judge’s credibility determinations. Finally, “the district court’s finding that the prosecutor was substantially motivated by race was not clearly erroneous.”

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