Thursday, April 10, 2008

Confrontation Clause, Evidentiary Claims Rejected in 2254 Case

Dalton v. Dinwiddie, No. 07-6126 (10th Cir. April 8, 2008) (unpublished): The Tenth denied the certificate of appealability and dismissed the appeal of the petitioner, who is serving life in Oklahoma, in this 2254 case. Mr. Dalton was convicted of murder and sentenced to life following the shooting of a young man in a robbery of the home where the man and his parents lived. Three men were involved in the shooting, and both codefendants identified Dalton as the shooter. The Tenth finds that there was no Confrontation Clause violation based on the trial court's exclusion of the victim's father's prior convictions, that were more than ten years old, and the father's alleged "bootlegging" activities. The evidence was properly excluded because the ancient (37 year old) priors were minimally relevant to the father's credibility. It was unclear how the evidence of alleged bootlegging indicated a motive for the father to identify Dalton as the shooter, and, besides, there was no independent evidence of the bootlegging. Additionally, there was no error in the district court excluding the evidence of an exculpatory letter written by a codefendant because the defense did not disclose the letter as required by the Oklahoma rules.