In Jones v. Davis, the Ninth Circuit yesterday reversed a district court order vacating a death sentence for a 1992 murder.  The California Supreme Court had affirmed the death sentence (People v. Jones (2003) 29 Cal.4th 1229) and later denied two state habeas corpus petitions (here and here).

The district court granted habeas corpus relief after finding that the petitioner had been improperly denied the right to fully testify in his own defense and that the Supreme Court’s failure to reverse because of the denial was an objectively unreasonable application of clearly established federal law.  The Ninth Circuit disagreed there was any error at all on the testimonial issue.

This was the second time the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s grant of habeas corpus relief.  (Jones v. Davis (9th Cir. 2015) 806 F.3d 538.)  And yesterday’s decision is not the end of the line — the appeals court remanded for the district court to rule on other, as yet unresolved habeas claims.

The Ninth Circuit usually, but not always, refuses to overturn California Supreme Court death penalty decisions.


“From the bench, an ‘impotent silence’.”