Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Parle v. Runnels (9th Cir. - Oct. 10, 2007)

If at first you don't succeed, try -- and then try -- again. Who knows? Maybe the third time will be a charm.

Like it is here.

Timothy Parles kills his wife by stabbing her in the back. He gets convicted of first degree murder, and loses his California appeals. But he files a federal habeas petition, and it's granted by the district court. But, before the Ninth Circuit, in 1994, the habeas grant is reversed and remanded. By a panel whose two Ninth Circuit constituents are Judges Hall and O'Scannlain. No great shock there.

On remand, the district court again grants habeas. And again California appeals. It's a different panel this time -- Judges Noonan and Bybee are the two Ninth Circuit judges -- but its the same result. Grant of habeas reversed and remanded.

Third time back down. Same district court judge -- Judge Alsup -- and he shan't be deterred. Another grant of habeas relief. And another appeal by California.

But, this time, the panel consists of Judges Hawkins, Tashima, and Bea. And, unlike the other two times, this time, the district court's decision is affirmed. In one of the very rare opinions in which "cumulative error" is the basis for a reversal on federal habeas. Especially post-AEDPA.

So don't give up. Especially if you're otherwise just going to spend the rest of your life in Susanville -- a place to which I've been, and which I can assure you is not especially fun. Might as well hope that Appeal #3 will go better than Appeal #1 and Appeal #2.