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Thursday, February 24, 2005

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit posts one today

Franklin, Harrison v. McCaughtry, Gary R. (ED Wis.) [13 pp.]

Before POSNER, WOOD, and WILLIAMS, Circuit Judges.
WOOD, Circuit Judge. In February 1996, Harrison Franklin was convicted by a Wisconsin court of armed robbery, reckless endangerment, and bail jumping. To make matters worse, at the time he committed these crimes he was a repeat offender and free on bond pending his appeal of a prior battery conviction. After exhausting his remedies in the state courts, Franklin filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The district court denied the petition but granted a certificate of appealability on the issues of trial-judge bias and ineffective assistance of counsel. On appeal, Franklin alleges that the state court judge was actually biased and that the Wisconsin Court of Appeals’ rejection of this point was contrary to, and constituted an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States. Although the burden is high on habeas corpus petitioners, we conclude that Franklin has met these demanding standards here; we therefore vacate and remand for issuance of the writ. * * *

* * * Here, the only inference that can be drawn from the facts of record is that Judge Schroeder decided that Franklin was guilty before he conducted Franklin’s trial. This is a clear violation of Franklin’s due process rights.

Because Judge Schroeder was actually biased, Franklin is entitled to a new trial. See Edwards, 520 U.S. at 647; Bracy, 286 F.3d at 414; Cartalino, 122 F.3d at 9-10. Accordingly, we VACATE and REMAND this case with instructions to grant Franklin’s petition for habeas corpus unless the state institutes proceedings to re-try him within 60 days.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 24, 2005 01:21 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions