Jones v. Ryan

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Habeas Corpus
  • Date Filed: 08-16-2012
  • Case #: 10-99006
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Gould for the Court; Circuit Judges Bea and Tallman
  • Full Text Opinion

A claim for prosecutorial misconduct will not succeed when the evidence is not material to the case, no prejudice results from inconsistencies of that evidence, and the evidence is just one piece of the mosaic of evidence against the petitioner.

Robert Jones was sentenced to death after being convicted of six murders, found guilty of first-degree attempted murder, aggravated assault, armed robbery and first-degree burglary. Jones appealed the district court’s denial of his habeas corpus petition on the claims of prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective assistance of counsel. The Ninth Circuit determined that it was not unreasonable for the Post-Conviction Relief (“PCR”) court to deny Jones’s ineffective assistance of counsel under the standard set out in Strickland v. Washington. Further, the Court concluded that no cause existed to excuse Jones’s procedural default. Jones’s claim of prosecutorial misconduct rested upon the testimony of three witnesses and the conduct of Prosecutor David White. The testimonies related to a kicked-in door, victim Arthur Bell’s body, misconstrual of police sketches, false avowal about a phone, and delayed disclosure of Jones’s hat and boots. The Ninth Circuit found that the testimonies regarding the kicked-in door, even though incorrect, were not material and were only one small part of the testimony. The Court also determined that the testimonies regarding Bell’s body, the police sketches, the allegedly false avowal, and disclosure of Jones’s hat and boots were not material. Also, the Court concluded that Jones was not prejudiced by his counsel’s failure to use the inconsistencies in the testimony regarding the kicked-in door, because it was one of many facts that was used against Jones. Thus, the Court determined that Jones received a fair trial and did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel. AFFIRMED.

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