Hurles v. Ryan

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Habeas Corpus
  • Date Filed: 01-18-2013
  • Case #: 08-99032
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Nelson for the Court; Circuit Judge Pregerson; Dissent by Circuit Judge Ikuta
  • Full Text Opinion

A petitioner is entitled to an evidentiary hearing in a state court post-conviction relief (PCR) claim of judicial bias when the judge who presided over the trial, sentencing, and PCR hearing "makes factual findings [in the PCR case] without an evidentiary hearing or other opportunity for the petitioner to present evidence."

Arizona charged Hurles in a capital case and provided court-appointed counsel. Counsel moved for appointment of co-counsel, which the trial court summarily denied. Counsel then filed a petition for special action in the state court of appeals. In accordance with Arizona law, counsel named the trial court judge as a nominal defendant as “a mere formality.” The trial court judge filed a response defending her actions. The court of appeals issued a decision that denied the trial court judge standing to appear and ruled it improper for judges to file pleadings “solely to advocate the correctness of an individual ruling in a single case.” The judge continued to preside over Hurles’s jury trial, conducted Hurles’s sentencing hearing, and presided over Hurles’s first and second post-conviction relief hearings, where she determined Hurles “offered no factual evidence to support his allegations” for relief, despite holding no evidentiary hearing. Instead, the judge “found facts based on her untested memory of the events.” The Court determined that the “state court decision resulted in an unreasonable determination of the facts and is not entitled to a presumption of correctness.” Because Hurles would be entitled to federal habeas relief if the allegation of judicial bias were shown, Hurles is entitled to an evidentiary hearing. REVERSED and REMANDED for an evidentiary hearing.

Advanced Search