849 F.3d 1164 (9th Cir. 2017), 15-16404, Mahrt v. Beard

Docket Nº:15-16404
Citation:849 F.3d 1164
Opinion Judge:William A. Fletcher, Circuit Judge:
Party Name:GREGORY MAHRT, Petitioner-Appellee, v. JEFFREY A. BEARD, Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; STU SHERMAN, Warden, Respondents-Appellants
Attorney:Pamela K. Critchfield (argued), Deputy Attorney General; Peggy S. Ruffra and Jeffrey M. Laurence, Supervising Deputy Attorneys General; Office of the Attorney General, San Francisco, California, for Respondents-Appellants. Paul Kleven (argued), Law Offices of Paul Kleven, Berkeley, California, fo...
Judge Panel:Before: William A. Fletcher, Morgan B. Christen, and Michelle T. Friedland, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge W. Fletcher.
Case Date:March 01, 2017
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
SUMMARY

The State challenged the district court's grant of habeas relief to petitioner, finding that his state-court guilty plea was based on a violation of his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel. The court held that Tollett v. Henderson does not bar petitioner's ineffective assistance of counsel claim. Tollett, properly understood, provided that although freestanding constitutional ... (see full summary)

 
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Page 1164

849 F.3d 1164 (9th Cir. 2017)

GREGORY MAHRT, Petitioner-Appellee,

v.

JEFFREY A. BEARD, Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; STU SHERMAN, Warden, Respondents-Appellants

No. 15-16404

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

March 1, 2017

Argued and Submitted September 14, 2016 , San Francisco, California

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. D.C. No. 1:14-cv-01696-NJV. Nandor J. Vadas, Magistrate Judge, Presiding.

REVERSED.

SUMMARY [*]

Habeas Corpus

The panel reversed the district court's grant of a habeas corpus petition in which a California state prisoner alleged that his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel was violated by trial counsel's failure to bring a pre-plea suppression motion.

The panel held that the petitioner's ineffective assistance of counsel claim is not barred by Tollett v. Henderson, 411 U.S. 258, 93 S.Ct. 1602, 36 L.Ed.2d 235 (1973), which, properly understood, does not bar federal habeas claims of pre-plea ineffective assistance of counsel when the action, or inaction, of counsel prevents petitioner from making an informed choice whether to plead. The panel explained that if the deputies unconstitutionally searched the petitioner's home, counsel's failure to move to suppress the fruits of that search prevented him from making an informed choice whether to plead.

The panel wrote that counsel should have moved to suppress the firearm and ammunition found in the petitioner's home, but concluded that the state habeas courts were not unreasonable in denying the writ because it would have been reasonable for the state courts to conclude that a motion to suppress, if brought, would likely have been denied.

Pamela K. Critchfield (argued), Deputy Attorney General; Peggy S. Ruffra and Jeffrey M. Laurence, Supervising Deputy Attorneys General; Office of the Attorney General, San Francisco, California, for Respondents-Appellants.

Paul Kleven (argued), Law Offices of Paul Kleven, Berkeley, California, for Petitioner-Appellee.

Before: William A. Fletcher, Morgan B. Christen, and Michelle T. Friedland, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge W. Fletcher.

OPINION

W. FLETCHER, Circuit Judge

The State of California appeals from a grant of habeas corpus to Petitioner Gregory Mahrt. The district court found that Mahrt's state-court guilty plea rested on a violation of his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel. For the reasons that follow, we reverse.

I. Factual Background

On September 3, 2012, at approximately 10:00 p.m., Sonoma County Sheriff's deputies were dispatched to a residence in Petaluma, California. A neighbor had reported that a " male and female subject [were] arguing over a gun." The property was owned by Robyn Ryan, the mother of Petitioner-Appellee Gregory Mahrt's ex-girlfriend, Tracy Ryan. Mahrt was living in a garage on the property that had been converted into a room.

As the deputies approached the property, Mahrt walked out and met them at the front gate. The deputies detained Mahrt and asked about the argument and the gun. In a written " Incident/Investigation Report," Deputy Yoder described Mahrt as initially " uncooperative." According to Deputy Yoder's report, Mahrt told the deputies that Tracy had left before they arrived. Robyn Ryan stated in a sworn declaration that she likewise had informed the deputies that Tracy had " left the area" before they arrived, and that she had provided this information to the deputies before any search.

The deputies conducted what Deputy Yoder's report characterizes as a " protective sweep" of Mahrt's room in the garage. According to the report, the deputies felt justified in conducting this warrantless search " [d]ue to the report of the possible domestic incident and the mention of a deadly weapon" and because Mahrt " may [have been] attempting to conceal a victim inside." As the deputies approached the garage, Mahrt " began yelling that he did not want [the officers] to enter his room." The deputies found no one inside Mahrt's room.

According to the report, the deputies observed ammunition cans, ammunition, and what appeared to be an AR-15 Rifle (later determined to be a replica). Upon determining that no one was in the room, and after observing the firearm-related materials, the deputies discontinued their search of the garage.

According to the report, the deputies subsequently learned that Mahrt had a prior felony conviction and arrested him for being a felon in possession of ammunition. The deputies then asked Mahrt for permission to search his room, and Mahrt consented. The deputies conducted a second search of the room. They found additional ammunition, rifle magazines, and two firearms.

In a sworn declaration, Mahrt described only one search of his room. He insisted that he did not consent to the search. He stated in his declaration: I saw several deputies approach the room, and stated that they did not have permission to search it, but they ignored me. The deputies searched the room for close to an hour. Inside the room were closed green boxes that contained ammunition, and a locked guitar case that contained a shotgun and an AK-47 rifle. . . . After the deputies completed their search of the room, the deputy in charge, Deputy Yoder, approached and asked me to sign a written form waiving my right to object to the search. When I refused, the deputy I had been talking to about my [frightened three-year-old] son threatened that if I did not sign the waiver form, the SWAT team would tear the entire place up for the next twelve hours right in front of my son. I believe that his threat was recorded on the dash camera. Based on the threat, I signed the form and recorded a statement to the effect that the waiver was given voluntarily.

According to Deputy Yoder's report, further investigation " verified that [Tracy Ryan] was not a victim of Domestic Violence."

II. Prior Judicial...

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