Rodriguez v. McDonald, 872 F.3d 908 (9th Cir. 2017)

The U.S.Supreme Court has repeatedly criticized the Ninth Circuit for its habeas corpus decisions reviewing state court convictions. Recently the Justices told the Ninth Circuit not to assume your duty is correction of legal mistakes. Your test is to determine whether a breakdown has occurred in the state court justice system. The Ninth Circuit simply ignores this instruction, recites the facts and calls the case reviewed as a breakdown. In Rodriguez, the Ninth Circuit decision reversed a criminal case tried in state court, conviction affirmed by the California Court of Appeal, denied review by the California Supreme Court, state court habeas denied, federal district court habeas denied, appeal reversed by the Ninth Circuit.

A police officer arrested Rodriguez, who admitted gang membership, during an investigation of a murder, and various witnesses provided evidence of his responsibility. Officers had extensive discusions with Rodriguez who ultimately confessed. The legal issue in the case was Miranda. A venerable U.S. Supreme Court originally established Miranda in an attempt to avoid use of force or threats when officers were questioning a usppect. In this case the evidence is in conflict to some extent whether the officers did not use Miranda early enough. The trial court resolved the evidenciary conflict as did the California Court of Appeal, the California Supreme Court, state courts in habeas filings, the district court. Period. No breakdown of the justice system. Appeal reversed by the Ninth Circuit correcting an alleged legal error. Read the stinging dissent in Rodriguez.

As a result of this decision the murder conviction was reversed and the charge involving gangs potentially retried unlikely. This practice goes on and should be criticized by police and prosecution. Congress should simply end AEDPA and suspend any use of habeas corpus by federal courts over state cases.