Ninth Circuit affirms denial of habeas relief to Arizona death row inmate
Posted on: 9/17/2012 02:08:50 PM by Peoples
On September 10, 2012, the Ninth Circuit (Thomas with Gould and Bybee) affirmed the denial of Joseph Wood, III's habeas petition.  Wood v. Ryan.  The panel concluded that Wood was not entitled to relief on the following claims: (1) the prosecutor committed misconduct by cross-examining a defense expert about whether he had considered hypnotizing or administering amobarbital to Wood who alleged he could not recall shooting the victims; (2) the prosecutor committed misconduct by eliciting testimony about Wood's prior arrest, employment history, personal relationships with previous girlfriends and self-centered relationship with his estranged girlfriend who was one of the victims; (3) the prosecutor committed misconduct by questioning a defense expert about Wood's mental state at the time of the killings: (4) the prosecutor committed misconduct by questioning a mutual friend of Wood and his estranged girlfriend about Wood's mental state during an incident prior to the killings; (5) the cumulative impact of the misconduct by the prosecutor denied Wood's right to a fair trial; (6) ineffective assistance by trial counsel in failing to adequately investigate and prepare the mental health defense and failing to object to instances of prosecutorial misconduct; (7) ineffective assistance by trial counsel at sentencing for failing to prepare and present evidence of Wood's diminished capacity, failing to prepare Woods for his pre-sentence interview, and failing to assert Wood's military service as a mitigating factor; and (8) the cumulative impact of numerous deficiencies entitled Wood to a new trial .  The panel also affirmed the district court's finding that additional claims were procedurally defaulted due to Wood's failure to fairly present them to the state courts.   It further found that the evidence of premeditation that was introduced at trial foreclosed Wood's argument that some of the defaulted claims could be considered because he satisfied the fundamental miscarriage of justice exception.  Finally, the panel found no abuse of discretion in the district court's denial of Wood's requests for an evidentiary hearing, evidentiary development, and expansion of the record.  Although Wood was denied an evidentiary hearing in state court and may have diligently attempted to develop the factual basis for his claims, the district court found that Wood had failed to allege the existence of disputed facts which, if true, would have entitled him to relief.  In addition, review under section 2254(d) was limited to the record that was before the state court.