Mena v. Long

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Habeas Corpus
  • Date Filed: 02-17-2016
  • Case #: 14-55102
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Jacqueline Nguyen for the Court; Circuit Judge Rawlinson and Senior District Judge Ponsor
  • Full Text Opinion

A district court may hold a petition in stay and abeyance even when all claims in a habeas corpus petition are unexhausted.

After a guilty plea, Armando Mena was sentenced to a 40 year prison term. Mena appealed, challenging his plea’s validity and his counsel’s effectiveness. The California Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court. Mena filed a petition for habeas corpus in the California Supreme Court. Mena alleged ineffective assistance of counsel at the trial and appellate level. The petition was denied review. Mena then filed in district court. The district court found Mena’s petition included unexhausted claims. Mena filed an amended petition with the California Supreme Court and moved for a Rhines stay to exhaust the state court claims. The Ninth Circuit held that the district court may hold a petition in stay and abeyance even when all claims in a habeas petition are unexhausted. Although the Rhines standard was originally set regarding a petition of mixed exhausted and unexhausted claims, nothing denies a court the ability to stay a petition of only unexhausted claims. The district court must decide the merits of Mena’s unexhausted claims. REVERSED and REMANDED.

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