Hernandez v. Holland

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 04-24-2014
  • Case #: 11-55337
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Bea for the Court; Circuit Judges O’Scannlain and Graber
  • Full Text Opinion

A mid-trial conversation between a defendant and a court bailiff does not constitute an interrogation under Miranda.

Petitioner Nelson Hernandez (“Hernandez”), who is on trial for murder, is seeking habeas relief on the ground that his right against self-incrimination was violated. During a mid-trial recess, Hernandez had a conversation with the court bailiff during which the bailiff asked him questions regarding the events that took place during the crime. Hernandez made self-incriminatory statements during the conversation. The bailiff subsequently was called to testify in front of a jury regarding the conversation. The trial court ruled against Hernandez. Hernandez subsequently appealed to the California Court of Appeal who likewise found that the conversation was not akin to an interrogation under Miranda v. Arizona.The California Supreme Court denied hearing the review. After his state habeas petitions were denied, Hernandez filed a pro se 28 U.S.C. § 2254 federal habeas petition on the grounds that the lower courts erred in allowing the bailiff to testify in front of the jury based on the conversation between the two. The district court denied this petition based on the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), which has had a significant impact on the laws regarding habeas in the country. The district court found that under the AEDPA, there was “no unreasonable application of federal precedent or finding of fact in permitting [the bailiff’s] testimony.” In order to show that the California Court of Appeal’s decision was erroneous, Hernandez must prove that either 1) the decision was an unreasonable application of federal law as established by the Supreme Court, or 2) the decision was based on an unreasonable determination of facts. This panel held that the California Court of Appeal did not unreasonably apply Miranda because the conversation did not amount to an interrogation. Further, the panel also found that the decision was not based on an unreasonable determination of facts. AFFIRMED

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