Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Jones v. Taylor (9th Cir. - Aug. 19, 2014)

There were three witnesses to a crime that Scott Jones allegedly committed.  No other evidence.  At all.  But the jury believed the three witnesses, and Jones was convicted.  Fair enough.

Years later, each of these three witnesses recanted, and testified under oath that Jones did not, in fact, commit the offense, and that their contrary testimony at trial was erroneous.  The district court held that this new development entitled the defendant to habeas relief, because it created a substantial probability that Jones was, in fact, innocent of the offense.

The Ninth Circuit reverses.

Judge Tashima holds that a jury would still probably find Jones guilty -- beyond a reasonable doubt -- even when every witness testifies he's innocent and there's no evidence of guilt beyond the testimony of those three witnesses.

Interesting theory.