Shelton v. Marshall, No. 13-15707 [August 7, 2015]

Shelton v. Marshall

The court granted a habeas petition, on one murder count and denied it on a second murder count, based on Brady v. Maryland grounds, where the prosecution suppressed a material part of its deal with a key witness. The prosecution reached a plea agreement with a co-conspirator in which his defense attorney would refrain from having his client psychiatrically examined so that when he testified he could not be impeached and he would have his charges dismissed. The portion of the deal pertaining to the mental competency of the main witness against him was not revealed to Sheldon. The Court held that the California court’s decision that “it is difficult to conclude that anything favorable to petitioner was suppressed” is “contrary to clearly established law, as determined by the Supreme Court.” The Court reviewed the issue of whether the material was favorable to the defendant de novo as the state court did not reach the merits of this issue and found that there was a reasonable probability of a different result with the omitted evidence.