Rainwater Law Group

Effective Criminal Defense

McKinney v. Ryan, No. 09-99018 [December 29, 2015]

McKinney v. Ryan

En banc decision granting the petitioner habeas petition as to the sentence of death. The Arizona Supreme Court denied his appeal on the grounds that McKinney’s PTSD did not have a “causal nexus to his crimes.” The Court held that here the “presumption that state courts know and follow the law’” is rebutted here where we know, based on its own words, that the Arizona Supreme Court did not “know and follow” federal law. [The presumption was rebutted by the Arizona Supreme Court’s consistent articulation and application of its casual nexus test, and it citation in this case to the specific page of the decision in which it articulated the test] Therefore, because the Arizona Supreme Court applied its unconstitutional “causal nexus” test in affirming the petitioner’s death sentence it decision was contrary to clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States. Using a harmless error standard the court found that the failure to consider the PTSD evidence had a “substantial and injurious effect” on McKinney’s sentence under Brecht.

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