Amado v. Gonzalez

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Habeas Corpus
  • Date Filed: 10-30-2013
  • Case #: 11-56420
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Senior District Judge Hellerstein for the Court; Circuit Judge Fletcher; Dissent by Circuit Judge Rawlinson
  • Full Text Opinion

For the purposes of a habeas corpus petition, the prosecution violates Brady v. Maryland by failing to disclose impeachment evidence, including a probation report, regarding its key witness whose statements prejudice the defendant.

In 1998, Randall Amado was convicted of aiding and abetting a murder. He moved for a new trial alleging that the prosecution had violated Brady v. Maryland, when it failed to disclose evidence that could be used to impeach the state’s key witness, including a probation report revealing the witness’ multiple conviction and gang activity. The California Superior Court denied the motion and Amado appealed the decision, which the California Court of Appeals again denied. The California Supreme Court denied Amado’s petition for review. Amado then filed a habeas corpus petition with the Central District of California and the magistrate recommended that the petition be granted on the ground that the prosecution violated Brady. Six years later, the district court denied the petition. The Ninth Circuit granted a Certificate of Appealability on the issue of the prosecutions' alleged violation of Brady. The panel reviewed the case de novo, noting that it declined to apply the deferential standard of review required by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”) because the state courts did not “adjudicate on the merits” in only considering state law rather than reaching the issue of the Brady violation. The Brady rule holds that “prosecutors are constitutionally obligated to disclose evidence favorable to an accused that is material to either guilt or to punishment.” The state argued that the Brady duty only required it to disclose evidence that the defense could not have known on its own. The panel disagreed, holding that the prosecution had a broad duty to disclose; Amado had been prejudiced by the state’s witness’ statements; and had therefore violated Brady by suppressing evidence that could have been used by the defense counsel to impeach the state’s witness. REVERSED and REMANDED for a new trial.

Advanced Search