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Harrington v. Richter, No. 09-587

By FindLaw Staff on January 20, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Denial of Murder Habeas Petition Reversed

In Harrington v. Richter, No. 09-587, a murder prosecution, the Ninth Circuit's reversal of the denial of petitioner's habeas petition is reversed where: 1) 28 U.S.C. section 2254(d) applied to petitioner's petition, even though the state court's order was unaccompanied by an opinion explaining the court's reasoning; and 2) the Ninth Circuit erred in holding that, because petitioner's attorney had not consulted forensic blood experts or introduced expert evidence, the State Supreme Court could not reasonably have concluded counsel provided adequate representation.


As the court wrote:  "The writ of habeas corpus stands as a safeguard against imprisonment of those held in violation of the law. Judges must be vigilant and independent in reviewing petitions for the writ, a commitment that entails substantial judicial resources. Those resources are diminished and misspent, however, and confidence in the writ and the law it vindicates undermined, if there is judicial disregard for the sound and established principles that inform its proper issuance."

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