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Effective Criminal Defense

Ayala v. Davis, No. 09-99005 [February 11, 2016]

Ayala v. Davis

On remand from the Supreme Court. In this opinion, the Court addressed Ayala’s Vienna Convention claim after its previous decision in Ayala v. Wong granting a Batson Claim was reversed by the Supreme Court. The state court denied his Vienna Convention claim because, among other reasons, he did not establish prejudice and the Ninth Circuit in denying relief found that “the state court’s no prejudice finding was not ‘objectively unreasonable.’” Ayala’s claim that Mexico might have persuaded the district attorney not to seek the death penalty was not prejudicial because he failed to establish that Mexico would have “succeeded in this case, particularly in light of the facts of the crime at issue.” Based on Breard v. Greene, 523 U.S. 371 (1998), while Ayala’s argument was stronger that Breard’s, it was not unreasonable for the California Supreme Court to conclude that he had not shown sufficient prejudice.

See Davis v. Ayala, 135 S. CT. 2187 (2015) (overruling the granting of a Batson claim in this same case): It held that “[t]he Ninth Circuit’s decision was based on the misapplication of basic rules regarding harmless error. Assuming without deciding that a federal constitutional error occurred, the error was harmless under Brecht” and the AEDPA. The court, contrary to the Ninth Circuit opinion, found that “[w]hile a federal habeas court need not ‘formal[ly] apply both Brecht and ‘AEDPA/Chapman,’ AEDPA nevertheless ‘sets forth a precondition to the grant of habeas relief.” “In sum, a prisoner who seeks federal habeas corpus relief must satisfy Brecht, and if the state court adjudicated his claim on the merits, the Brecht test subsumes the limitations imposed by the AEDPA.” See yesterday's Ninth Circuit opinion in Deck v. Jenkins, summarized below, in which the Ninth Circuit interpreted the holding of Davis v. Ayala.

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