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Herrera v Collins

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Herrera v. Collins

Argued October 7, 1992 Decided January 25, 1993
Citations506 U.S. 390 ( more ) 113 S. Ct. 853; 122 L. Ed. 2d 203; 1993 U.S. LEXIS 1017; 61 U.S.L.W. 4108; 93 Cal. Daily Op. Service 512; 93 Daily Journal DAR 1024; 6 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 882
Full case nameLeonel Torres Herrera , Petitioner v. James A. Collins, Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Institutional Division
Case history
PriorDefendant convicted, 197th Judicial District Court of Cameron County, Texas; affirmed, 682 S.W.2d 313 (Tex. Crim. App. 1984); cert. denied, 471 U.S. 1131 (1985); petition for writ of habeas corpus denied, 819 S.W.2d 528 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991); cert. denied, 502 U.S. 1085 (1992); denial of petition for writ of habeas corpus affirmed, 904 F.2d 944 ( 5th Cir. 1990); certiorari denied, 498 U.S. 925 (1990); stay of execution vacated, 954 F.2d 1029 (5th Cir. 1992); cert. granted, 502 U.S. 1085 (1992).
SubsequentRehearing denied, 507 U.S. 1001 (1993).
Case opinions
ConcurrenceO'Connor, joined by Kennedy
Concurrence_2Scalia, joined by Thomas
Concurrence_3White
DissentBlackmun, joined by Stevens, Souter (parts I-IV)
MajorityRehnquist, joined by O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas
Court membership
Chief Justice William Rehnquist Associate Justices Byron White Harry Blackmun John P. Stevens Sandra Day O'Connor Antonin Scalia Anthony Kennedy David Souter Clarence Thomas
Holding
Petitioner's claim ofactual innocence based on newly discovered evidence is not ground for federal habeas relief. United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed.
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amends. VIIIXIV

On the basis of proof which includes two eyewitness identifications, numerous pieces of circumstantial Evidence, and Petitioner Herrera's handwritten letter impliedly admitting his guilt, Herrera was convicted of capital murder of Police Officer Carrisalez and sentenced to death in January, 1982. After pleading guilty, in July, 1982, to the related capital murder of Officer Rucker, Herrera unsuccessfully challenged Carrisalez conviction on direct appeal and in two collateral proceedings in Texas State courts, and in Federal habeas petition. Ten years after his conviction, he urged in the second Federal habeas proceeding that newly discovered evidence demonstrate that he was actually innocent of the murders of Carrisalez and Rucker, and that the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment and Fourteenth Amendment's due process guarantee therefore forbid his execution. He supported this claim with affidavits tending to show that his now-dead brother had committed murders. District Court, inter alia, granted his request for a stay of execution so that he could present his actual Innocence claim and supporting affidavits in State Court. In vacating stay, Court of Appeals held that the claim was not cognizable on Federal habeas absent accompanying Federal constitutional violation. Herrera's claim of actual Innocence does not entitle him to Federal habeas relief. Pp. 398-419. Herrera's contention that the Fourteenth Amendment's due process guarantee supports his claim that his showing of Innocence entitles him to a new Trial, or at least to vacation of his death sentence, is unpersuasive. Because State legislative judgments are entitled to substantial deference in the Criminal Procedure area, criminal process will be found lacking only where it offends some principle of Justice so rooted in tradition and conscience as to be rank as fundamental. See, eg, Patterson v. New York, 432 US 197 202. It cannot be said that the refusal of Texas-which requires New Trial motion based on newly discovered Evidence to be made within 30 days of imposition or suspension of sentence-to entertain Herrera's New Evidence Eight years after his conviction transgress principle of fundamental fairness, in light of the Constitution's silence on subject of New trials, historical availability of New trials base on newly discover Evidence, this Court's Amendments to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 33 to impose time limit for filing New Trial motions base on newly discover Evidence, and contemporary Practice in States, Only nine of which have No time limits for filing of such motions. Pp. 407-412. Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that, in capital case, truly persuasive post-Trial demonstration of actual Innocence would render defendant's execution unconstitutional and warrant Federal habeas relief if there were no State avenue open to process such claim, Herrera's showing of Innocence falls far short of the threshold showing which would have to be make in order to trigger relief.

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Footnotes

For reasons, State by District Court, correctly rejected Petitioner's claims 2 3 4 and 5 because Petitioner has clearly abused writ as to those claims. See McCleskey v. Zant, _ US _, 111 SCt. 1454 113 lead. 2d 517. On Brady prong of Petitioner's first claim, we agree with the District Court's initial conclusion that Petitioner neither proffered evidence nor alleged particularized facts that demonstrate that the State withheld any favorable evidence from Herrera before his trial. See Brady v. Maryland, 373 US 83 83 SCt. 1194 10 lead. 2d 215. As State above, District Court, on reconsideration, concluded that pleadings and affidavits were sufficient to require hearing on one issue: whether the State knew that Petitioner was innocent of the murder of Officer Carrisalez and withheld that information from Herrera before his trial. We are not persuaded that Herrera's petition, as amplified by his exhibits, states specific facts that point to real possibility of Constitutional error. ' Blackledge v. Allison, 431 US 63 75 n. 7 97 SCt. 1621 1630 n. 7 52 lead. 2d 136. Herrera never identified any specific evidence that he contended was withheld by prosecutors before trial. Instead, he relied on affidavits and newspaper clippings to suggest that prosecutors knew that Raul Herrera, rather than Leonel Herrera, committed the murders. Nothing in any of the exhibits suggests, however, that prosecutors could have known of information contained within them at the time of Herrera's trial. Newspaper clippings upon which Herrera relies make no reference at all to instant case and do not refer to police corruption in connection with drug activity in South Texas prior to 1985, three years after Herrera's trial. Further, they contain nothing to suggest that anyone who testified at his trial or any officials in Cameron County, where Herrera was convict, have ever been involved in any wrongdoing. The Affidavit of Raul Herrera, Jr., State that he told police officer that his father committed murders rather than Petitioner, but he does not say when or to whom this information was convey. Consequently, Herrera has not plead with sufficient particularity elements of his Brady claim to require hearing. Id. Moreover, exculpatory evidence on which Herrera relies is the claim that someone else, and not him, committed offenses of which he was convict. The person at whom he points finger is his brother, Raul, now decease. Particularly in light of the fact that his brother allegedly committed an offense in a car which the petitioner normally drove, this information clearly was not only available to the defense, but was likely more available to the defense than it was to the prosecution. Brady does not oblige the government to provide defendants with evidence that they could obtain from other sources by exercising reasonable diligence. United States v. McKenzie, 768 F. 2d 602 608, cert. Deny, 474 US 1086 106 SCt. 861 88 lead.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions

Facts

Leonel Torres Herrera was convicted of one murder and plead guilty to another. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the conviction and death sentence, and the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari. Herreras State and federal habeas applications fail, and the Supreme Court denied certiorari. Ten years after conviction, Herrera petitioned for State relief claiming actual innocence based on evidence that Herreras brother committed crimes. The State Court denied the claim, and Herrera filed a federal habeas petition claiming the State failed to provide exculpatory evidence to the defense as required by Brady v. Maryland, 373 US 83. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions

Sources

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions

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