Jones v. Davis
Opinion Date: March 27, 2018
Judge: Priscilla Richman Owen
Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law
Petitioner, convicted of capital murder of a police officer and sentenced to death, argued that he was entitled to federal habeas relief on his claim that the press coverage of the crime and the presence of uniformed police officers in the gallery during his trial created an inherently prejudicial atmosphere that violated his right to a fair trial. On the merits, the Fifth Circuit held that 28 U.S.C. 2254(e)(2) barred consideration of the media reports included in petitioner's federal petition, and the district court properly declined to consider them. The court also held that petitioner's fair trial claim did not warrant habeas relief. The court explained that other courts have declined to find the mere presence of officers in a courtroom sufficient to support inherent prejudice, and the record before the court did not suggest the police presence intimidated the jury or disrupted the factfinding process in any way. Furthermore, even assuming that section 2254(e)(2) did not bar this court's consideration of the media-related evidence presented for the first time in petitioner's federal habeas petition, his fair trial claim still failed. Finally, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying discovery, nor did it err in resting its conclusion on the evidence presented in the federal habeas petition. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's denial of relief on the merits.
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