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Monday, May 03, 2010

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides Indiana case today

In Goudy v. Basinger, Sup. (SD Ind., McKinney), a 15-page opinion, Judge Bauer writes:

An Indiana jury convicted Walter Lee Goudy of murder and attempted murder in December 1995. After exhausting the remedies available to him in Indiana courts, Goudy filed the instant habeas corpus petition in the district court under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. That court denied his petition. He timely appealed. At issue in this case is whether the government’s failure to disclose three eyewitness statements that implicated one of its main witnesses, and the failure of Goudy’s counsel to introduce his brother’s tape-recorded confession as evidence denied Goudy a fair trial. * * *

Goudy presses two claims on appeal. He argues that the prosecution violated his right to a fair trial under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 87 (1963), by failing to turn over witness statements identifying Kaidi Harvell as one of the shooters and suggesting that Harvell spoke with one of Goudy’s alibi witnesses. Goudy also claims that his counsel’s failure to introduce Romeo Lee’s recorded confession at trial deprived him of the effective assistance of counsel under Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687-88 (1984). The district court denied both claims and we review de novo. * * *

In short, Goudy has shown that the state court’s decision on his Brady claim involved an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law. Rather than applying a “reasonable probability” standard for materiality of suppressed evidence as required by United States v. Bagley, 473 U.S. at 682, the court unreasonably required Goudy to show that the suppressed evidence would establish his innocence. The court did not recognize Bagley’s requirement that the effect of suppressed evidence be assessed cumulatively. Clearly established federal law entitles Goudy to have the exculpatory evidence considered under these standards. * * *

[B]ecause we hold that the Brady error alone denied Goudy a fair trial, we need not reach the question of whether he also was denied the effective assistance of counsel.

III. CONCLUSION. For the reasons stated above, we conclude that the Court of Appeals of Indiana unreasonably applied federal law when it determined that prior statements of identification by witnesses the government suppressed did not create a reasonable probability of a different result in Goudy’s trial. Therefore, we REVERSE the district court’s holding and remand with instructions to grant Goudy’s request for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. If the state elects not to retry Mr. Goudy within 120 days, he shall be released from confinement.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 3, 2010 12:03 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions