Henry v. Ryan

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Habeas Corpus
  • Date Filed: 06-19-2013
  • Case #: 09-99007
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Fisher for the Court; Circuit Judges Tallman and Callahan
  • Full Text Opinion

The elements of a Brady claim that establish 'suppression and materiality' may also show ‘cause and prejudice’ as required by the exception in Coleman', only when the state’s suppression is the reason for the defendant’s procedural default at trial.

Graham S. Henry was convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping, robbery and theft. The Arizona trial court imposed the death sentence in 1988, and later resentenced Henry to death in 1995. Henry brought several challenges to his conviction in district court through a habeas petition in which he claimed that the state committed a Brady v. Maryland violation. Henry also asserted that federal review of his petition was not barred by procedural default given that the merits of his claim demonstrated ‘cause and prejudice’ as required by the rule in Coleman v. Thompson. The Ninth Circuit held that Henry failed to prove that evidence he claimed the state suppressed was material to the guilty verdict. Second, the Court found that significant evidence presented at trial supported the guilty verdict, and that some of the allegedly suppressed evidence was even more incriminating than exculpatory. Henry also had new testimony from expert that went to show his prior claim that photographs presented at his trial had been misrepresented by the state. The panel agreed with the district court that argument was barred by Arizona’s rules of criminal procedure. Third, the Court emphasized that when it is possible for the merits of the ‘suppression and materiality’ elements of a Brady claim to establish ‘cause and prejudice’ required by the exception in Coleman, it is usually when the state’s suppression is the reason for the defendant’s procedural default, and that Henry had failed to appropriately develop this argument in state court. Finally, the panel affirmed the denial of Henry’s causal nexus claim, but granted a motion to expand the certificate of appealability to encompass this claim because ‘reasonable jurists could disagree’ whether the state court improperly required Henry to prove a nexus between mitigating evidence and his crime during sentencing. AFFIRMED.

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