Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wong v. Belmontes, 130 S.Ct. 383 (2009)

This Blog recited the evidence of the horrifying facts in Ayers v. Belmontes 549 U.S. 7 (2006); Blog, July 2006. The jury convicted Belmontes and voted the death penalty. The California Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and penalty in 1988; Peo. v. Belmontes, 755 P.2d 310 (1988). Unable to obtain post-trial relief in state courts, Belmontes filed a petition for habeas corpus in federal court. The U.S. District Court denied the petition but on appeal the Ninth Circuit discovered instructional error and reversed; Belmontes v. Woodford, 350 F.3d 861 (9th Cir. 2003). California sought cert., and the Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit for its failure to follow Supreme Court precedent. In a two line decision, the Justices and sent the case back to the Ninth Circuit for reconsideration of its decision; Brown v. Belmontes, 544 U.S. 945 (2005). In its "reconsidered" decision, the Ninth Circuit reversed again on grounds counsel for Belmontes was "ineffective;" Belmontes v. Ayers, 529 F.3d 834 (9th Cir. 2008). The State of California sought cert. again in the Supreme Court. Granted. The Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit in an opinion decrying Ninth Circuit reasoning as incomprehensible; Wong, Id., 130 S.Ct. 383 (2010).
On remand, the 9th Circuit was "compelled" to confirm the District Court denial of habeas corpus; 608 F.3d 1117 (2010).

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