Rainwater Law Group

Effective Criminal Defense

Zapien v. Martel No. 09-99023 [November 9, 2015]

Zapien v. Martel

Zapien claimed that his due process rights were denied when a prosecution investigator found and then destroyed an envelope containing a “defense strategy tape.” The Court found that the California courts did not unreasonably apply California v. Trombetta or Arizona v. Youngblood. Because they dealt with “the destruction of potentially exculpatory evidence – not, as here, the destruction of attorney-client work product.” Secondly, Zapien argued that the California court’s finding that the investigator did not listen to the tape was an unreasonable finding of fact. The court held that even if the tape had been listened to, Zapien did not establish a due process violation. Therefore, he didn’t have a viable claim. Additionally, Zapien raised several confrontation clause claims, one where the trial court admitted statements of Zapien’s sister at the preliminary hearing after she refused to testify at trial. The Court held that California’s reliance and application of Ohio v. Roberts was not unreasonable. Zapien also raised several ineffective assistance of counsel claims at the guilt and sentencing phases that were summarily denied by the Court. Finally, Zapien raised a claim that his right to an impartial jury was violated “when the trial court failed to dismiss a juror who admitted to hearing a news report that suggested Zapien would hurt his guards if he were given the death penalty.” The Court found that the California court’s application of Mattox v. United States was not unreasonable and denied the claim.

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