Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Unpublished Decisions

Madrid v. Wilson, 2014 WL 6057162 (11/14/14) (Wyo.) (unpub'd) - A claim based on a memo discovered in the prosecutor's files by the Utah Innocence Project was untimely. Mr. Madrid argued it wasn't until another favorable memo was discovered that he could file his ยง 2254 petition and that the Innocence Project was short on resources. But the 10th, while "sympathetic" to a petitioner's desire to avoid being penalized for successive filings by building as strong a case as possible before filing, the factual predicate for the claim was the discovery of the first memo. And "lack of resources" and negligence don't cut it for equitable tolling.

On the other hand, the second memo claim was timely. The state could make the timing procedural argument that the district court rejected, even though it didn't cross-appeal. But the Innocence Project could not be faulted for not finding the memo when it first got the file containing the memo because the file was in a file related to a different case of the same DA's office. The 10th rejects the district court's rationale for rejecting the Brady claim that the memo was not material because it described another suspect with some features that Mr. Madrid had. There were many features he didn't have. But nonetheless the memo wasn't material. The memo was a vague description of a possible alternative suspect "weighing lightly against the substantial evidence against Mr. Madrid." The 10th finds the memo wouldn't further discredit one of the state's witnesses because she had already been thoroughly impeached at trial. The memo evidence didn't match the direct evidence linking the alternate suspect.

Keith Township v. Freightliner, 2014 WL 5906561 (11/13/14) (Kan.) (unpub'd) - The 10th upholds the admission of fire expert evidence. It's not appropriate to exclude an expert witness on credibility grounds. That's the jury's province. Also the fact that another expert would have investigated the mater differently doesn't make an expert's opinion unreliable, so long as the method used is scientifically sound. It was not an abuse of discretion to exclude lay testimony because it was too complex for lay folks.