Milke v. Ryan

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Habeas Corpus
  • Date Filed: 03-14-2013
  • Case #: 07-99001
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Chief Judge Kozinski for the Court; Circuit Judges Farris and Bea
  • Full Text Opinion

Under Brady and Giglio , exculpatory evidence of a key witness’ past misconduct and disciplinary actions must be produced by the state in order ensure a fair trial.

Debra Milke was convicted of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, child abuse and kidnapping of her 4-year-old son and sentenced to death. The jury convicted Milke primarily based on the testimony of the detective who allegedly took her confession. The detective had a well-documented history of misconduct and resulting disciplinary action. Milke petition for habeas corpus was denied by the district court. Milke appealed, arguing that the failure of the prosecution to turn over evidence of the officer’s previous Brady violates violated one of the elements of fairness under Brady v. Maryland and Giglio v. United States, which “is the prosecution’s obligation to turn over exculpatory evidence.” The Ninth Circuit agreed and held that the state had acted contrary to the established precedent when it failed to disclose information regarding the history of misconduct of one of the state’s key witnesses, without which the jury could not return a fair conviction. The panel remanded the decision and ordered the granting of a conditional habeas corpus. It also ordered the state to produce the evidence of the detective’s misconduct for Milke’s attorneys. REVERSED and REMANDED with instructions.

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