Long v. Johnson

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Habeas Corpus
  • Date Filed: 12-02-2013
  • Case #: 12-55820
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Graber for the Court; Circuit Judges Rawlinson and Watford
  • Full Text Opinion

The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 requires federal courts to give “a double dose of deference” to state court decisions on non-direct appeal, thus limiting the federal court’s review power to whether or not the state court applied the law correctly.

Kimberly Long was convicted of second-degree manslaughter for the death of her boyfriend, Oswald Conde. Long appealed her conviction to the California Court of Appeals, arguing that the evidence submitted at trial was inadequate to prove that she had killed Conde. The appellate court upheld her conviction and denied her petition for a rehearing, and the California Supreme Court denied review. Long then filed a writ of habeas corpus. Arguing again, that the evidence presented at trial was not sufficient to convict her of second-degree manslaughter. The federal district court held that the denial of Long’s claim “was not contrary to, nor did it involve an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law […], nor was it an unreasonable determination of facts.” The district court did however issue a certificate of appealability for the evidence sufficiency issue, which gave rise to the current action. The Ninth Circuit held that the California courts did not improperly apply the Jackson v. Virginia standard, and upheld Long’s conviction. The Jackson standard requires that “[i]n response to the sufficiency challenge, the court consider[] ‘“whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.”’” When examining the state court’s decision, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) requires a “double dose of deference” be given to state courts. This double deference requirement requires the panel to only decide whether or not the Jackson standard was applied appropriately. The panel cannot, under the AEDPA make a determination on the evidence’s sufficiency. In compliance with the AEDPA, the panel held that the California courts reasonably held that a “rational jury could find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that” Conde was murdered by Long. AFFIRMED.

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