Friday, June 15, 2007

"I know a person is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, but in reality it didn't work that way"

I'm playing catch-up for the last few days, with four cases in the queue. The above quote is from Pederson v. Fabian, 06-2582. In Pederson, the 8th Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of habeas relief on a Brady and due process claim. The Brady claim related to a script that the prosecutor prepared for a key witness. The due process claim related to the above statement, made by a juror after the trial, in response to a prosecution questionnaire.

The Brady claim was disposed of quickly because there was not a reasonable possibility that the result would have been different with the evidence. The due process claim is disposed of just as quickly, but is worth quoting to show, in part, how the court deals with the above statement:

The juror’s statement was not an unsolicited statement of the juror’s views, but a response to specific questions such as “What were your impressions of [the defense attorney]?” The juror specifically criticized the defense attorney as the only one capable of preparing Pederson for trial and the only person capable of deflecting the impact of the prosecution’s evidence against Pederson. While the juror’s statement regarding a presumption of innocence is troubling on its face, it was not unreasonable to view the response as explaining that the defense needed to do more to counter the state’s strong showing of guilt.

Pederson is the least important of the four cases from last week that I hope to deal with this weekend. Sorry about the delay, but sometimes the outside world interferes with my blogging productivity. As a further programming note, I will not be speaking to Bowles v. Russell, 06-5306. While technically a habeas case, it has more to do with appellate procedure. Commentary here.