Detrich v. Ryan

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Habeas Corpus
  • Date Filed: 09-03-2013
  • Case #: 08-99001
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Fletcher for the Court; Concurrence by Circuit Judge Nguyen; Concurrence by Circuit Judge Watford; Dissent by Circuit Judge Graber; Chief Judge Kozinski; Circuit Judges Pregerson, Reinhardt, Gould, Bea, Murguia, and Christen
  • Full Text Opinion

Under Martinez v. Ryan, a court reviewing a Habeas Corpus petition can apply an exception to the “cause” and “prejudice” rule to excuse procedural default when a defendant makes a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel.

David Scott Detrich was sentenced to death in Arizona for murder, kidnapping, and sexual abuse. Detrich filed several claims for ineffective assistance of counsel (“IAC”) in a post-conviction relief petition, and when that was denied, filed a petition for habeas corpus, asserting many of the original claims, as well as new trial-counsel IAC claims. The district court ruled these claims to be procedurally defaulted and denied Detrich’s petition. A three-judge panel of this court reversed, holding that the ineffective assistance had prejudiced Detrich. The Supreme Court vacated and remanded, but on remand, the three-judge panel again reversed the district court’s decision. During this time, the Supreme Court decided Martinez v. Ryan, holding that “[i]nadequate assistance of counsel at initial-review collateral proceedings may establish cause for a prisoner’s procedural default of a claim of ineffective assistance at trial.” Detrich then moved for rehearing under Martinez. The Ninth Circuit read Martinez to provide that defaulted, “substantial,” IAC claims can be still raised if the “cause” for the default was due to ineffective or no counsel during an initial review process. Further, the panel found that all of Detrich’s IAC claims could be heard, not just those raised in the first proceeding. The panel remanded to the district court to determine first if there was “cause” to excuse the procedural default, and if so, to decide Detrich’s previously defaulted claims on the merits. In deciding the merits, the district court is to apply the two-step “cause and prejudice” test from Strickland v. Washington to determine whether the deficient performance of trial counsel was the cause of prejudice to Detrich at sentencing, and the court is to look to evidence presented at trial to determine whether effective counsel would have been able to alter the death-penalty outcome. VACATED IN PART and REMANDED.

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