Hibbler v. Benedetti

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Habeas Corpus
  • Date Filed: 09-10-2012
  • Case #: 11-16683
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Ikuta for the Court; Circuit Judges D. Nelson and Rawlinson.
  • Full Text Opinion

When reviewing a decision denying an evidentiary hearing, the Court must determine whether the decision was supported by the record. Furthermore, counsel will not be deemed ineffective if the Court determines that counsel acted objectively reasonable given the circumstances. Both conditions are satisfied, as to the competence of a defendant, when a psychiatric evaluator has found the defendant competent to stand trial.

On July 24, 2003, the constable came to Hibbler's home to evict him. Upon seeing the constable outside his door, Hibbler slit his daughter's throat twice with a razor, then attempted once more. Hibbler was charged with "first degree kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon, attempted murder with use of a deadly weapon, and battery with use of a deadly weapon resulting in substantial bodily harm." Hibbler was found competent to stand trial after his counsel requested a psychiatric evaluation. On May 5, 2005, Hibbler entered a guilty plea for one count of child abuse with neglect and substantial bodily harm. The Court determined that Hibbler fully understood the plea. At sentencing, Hibbler asked to withdraw his plea. The Court continued the hearing because Hibbler was unstable. At the next hearing, Hibbler was sentenced to "five to fifteen years." His counsel did not seek further review of his competency. Hibbler appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court, claiming that he incompetent during the hearing. On May 21, 2009, Hibbler filed a habeas claim for ineffective counsel on his sentence. Hibbler claimed the Supreme Court's decision should not be given deference under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) because it was based on an objectively unreasonable determination of the facts, specifically that he was competent. His request for an evidentiary hearing was denied. To overturn an appellate decision, the Court must find that the decision was not supported by the record. If a district court had the discretion to deny an evidentiary hearing, a state court's decision to do the same is objectively reasonable. The Court upheld the appellate decision, and did not grant habeas corpus. The Court further found that Hibbler's counsel was objectively reasonable in not seeking further review of Hibbler's competency. AFFIRMED.

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