Miles v. Ryan

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Habeas Corpus
  • Date Filed: 08-27-2012
  • Case #: 10-99016
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Graber for the court; Circuit Judge Tallman; Partial Concurrence and Partial Dissent by Circuit Judge Berzon
  • Full Text Opinion

Petitioner's claims that his counsel performed ineffectively in his sentencing trial fail because counsel's reasonable strategy of presenting him as a normal person require deference and he suffered no prejudice as a result.

Petitioner, Kevin Miles, was convicted of first-degree felony murder, dangerous kidnapping, and dangerous armed robbery, after he participated in an armed carjacking incident involving murder. The judge reviewed a pre-sentence report, sentenced him to death, and cited aggravating factors, and rejected most mitigating factors. The Arizona Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and sentence on appeal, so Petitioner filed a state court petition for post-conviction relief (“PCR”), which was denied. The Arizona Supreme Court then denied his petition for review of PCR decision, and pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, Petitioner filed this habeas corpus petition. The district court deemed an evidentiary hearing unwarranted and denied his petition, which brings this appeal. The Court reviewed de novo regarding the habeas corpus relief but deferred to the state court’s decision about any claim on the merits, with few exceptions, and review the “last reasoned decision,” which was the denial of the PCR petition, according to the governing Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. Petitioner contended that the state court misapplied the test relevant to his claim which required him to show that his counsel's “performance was deficient” and “that the deficient performance prejudiced his defense.” Petitioner’s argument that counsel was ineffective because she did not focus on drug addiction as a mitigating factor failed because it was a strategic plan, deserving of deference, and he was not prejudiced as a result. Petitioner’s argument that counsel deficiently prepared his expert witness leading to exclusion of his testimony fails because the added testimony would not have influenced the judge, failing on the prejudice prong. Petitioner’s argument that counsel inadequately investigated his social history fails because her reasonable strategy (presenting him as normal) made the history irrelevant; Petitioner suffered no prejudice as such mitigating value was minimal. AFFIRMED.

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