Gable v. Williams

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Habeas Corpus
  • Date Filed: 09-29-2022
  • Case #: 19-35427; 19-35436
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Nguyen for the Court; Circuit Judge Paez; & District Judge Tunheim
  • Full Text Opinion

"Actual innocence," as a procedural default excuse does not require “affirmatively prov[ing] . . . [the defendant] is probably innocent,” as in a solo claim of “actual innocence.” See Jones v. Taylor, 763 F.3d at 1246–47 (internal citation omitted)

Gable was convicted of six counts of aggravated murder and one count of murder in 1991. Gable’s convictions were affirmed in state court, and procedurally defaulted federal constitutional claims by not raising them while in state court. The Federal District Court excused Gable’s procedural default after a showing of “actual innocence,” then ruled in favor of his Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment due process rights violation claim and granted habeus corpus relief. The panel for the Ninth Circuit affirmed. As a procedural default excuse, “affirmatively prov[ing] . . . [Gable] is probably innocent,” is not necessary as in a solo claim of “actual innocence.” See Jones v. Taylor, 763 F.3d at 1246–47 (internal citation omitted). Gable offered “new evidence” not presented at trial: significant witness recantation and 3rd party guilt; the panel finding that on either basis, Gable met the “actual innocence” standard, noting “no reasonable juror could ignore the heavy blow[s] to the State’s evidence.” See Lee v. Lampert, 653 F.3d 929, 938 (9th Cir. 2011) (en banc). Considering the substantive claims, the panel questioned the trial court’s application of Oregon’s evidentiary rules to suppress “irrelevant” testimony of a 3rd party confessing to the same murder Gable was convicted. See O.R.S. § 40.155.  In any event, Gable’s due process rights were violated when “technical application” of evidence rules “plainly interfered” with his right to defend himself. Chambers v. Mississippi, 410 U.S. 284, 285 (1973). Affirmed.

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