Sanchez v Hartley

Hartley and other defendants appealed the denial of their motions for judgment on qualified immunity and limitations grounds. The panel affirmed in part and dismissed in part. It held that Sanchez stated a claim for 1983 malicious prosecution as probable cause determinations for Sanchez occurred after his warrantless arrest based in part on the confession;  Hartley and other detectives knew, should have known or recklessly disregarded the possibility that Sanchez’s confession to burglary and rape was false as Sanchez did not meet the description of the suspect, had significant cognitive and developmental disabilities, acted bizarrely enough at the interview that detectives asked if Sanchez was just saying what detectives wanted to hear, thought Sanchez was intoxicated and Sanchez was unable to recall any details of the crimes; and police officers can be liable for malicious prosecution in this context. The panel held the right to not have prosecution initiated based confessions either known to be false or confessions when the possibility of falsehood is recklessly disregarded was established in a 2004 10th Circuit case and thus Hartley and the other detectives were on notice. The panel dismissed the limitations issue as interlocutory appeal was unavailable and resolving the immunity issue will not necessarily resolve the limitations issue.

Ryder v Warrior

Ryder appealed the denial of habeas petition seeking to set aside his murder convictions and death sentence based on mental incompetence. The panel affirmed. It held that the stay of proceedings in his habeas case was correctly denied because all the grounds he raised were adjudicated y state courts and thus review is limited to evidence before the state courts and Ryder’s participation is thus not required. It held that the challenge to his competency trial counsel performance was decided by the state courts under Strickland and thus deferential review applied. It held the state court’s determination that competency trial counsel was not ineffective was supported by the record as counsel interviewed family members and provided records to the reviewing psychologist, made a strategic decision that neither juror nor family nor other lay witness testimony would have overcome the testimony of the judge who presided at the criminal trial that Ryder was competent and it was an allowable tactic to inform the competency jury that Ryder was on death row as the evidence relating to competence was intertwined with that supporting his conviction. The panel held the state court’s rejection of Ryder’s Strickland claim against guilt trial counsel was supported by the record because Ryder must be assumed to have been competent to stand trial given the findings of eth state courts and Ryder affirmatively waived his right to present mitigation evidence on the record during colloquy with the trial judge.