Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Habeas win in Tenth Circuit

Jean K. Gilles Phillips at the KU Defender Project won habeas relief in Trammell v. McKune, No. 06-3316 (10th Cir. April 12, 2007), ordering a new trial in a Johnson County aggravated robbery case. The prosecution had failed to turn over some evidence that was directly related to Mr. Trammell's defense. When the evidence came to light before sentencing, Mr. Trammell moved for a new trial, but the district court refused and the denial was affirmed on direct appeal. (See here). The Tenth Circuit noted that the state agreed that the state courts had applied the wrong standard for reviewing a Brady claim and therefore reviewed the habeas claim de novo:
This is a close case. The eyewitness identifications, though occurring under seemingly questionable circumstances, were nonetheless consistent despite thorough cross-examination. We are not certain that timely disclosure of the Amoco receipts would have resulted in a different result. But that is not the standard. We need to be convinced only that "the government's evidentiary suppression undermines confidence in the outcome of the trial." Kyles [v. Whitley, 514 U.S. 419, 434 (1995)](internal quotation marks omitted). Of this we are persuaded.

Congrats to Jean and to state trial and appellate counsel for preserving this federal issue for further review. I bet it's not the only case where the wrong standard was applied.

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