Lajoie v. Thompson

Decision Date13 July 1999
Docket NumberNo. 98-35919,98-35919
Citation217 F.3d 663
Parties(9th Cir. 2000) CLINTON K. LAJOIE, Petitioner-Appellant, v. S. FRANK THOMPSON, Superintendent, Oregon State Penitentiary, Respondent-Appellee
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit

Thomas J. Hester, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Portland, Oregon, for the petitioner-appellant.

Jennifer S. Lloyd, Assistant Attorney General, Salem, Oregon, for the respondent-appellee. ORDER

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Oregon; Michael R. Hogan, District Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. CV-96-06332 MRH

Before: Betty B. Fletcher, Warren J. Ferguson, and A. Wallace Tashima, Circuit Judges.

Opinion by Judge TASHIMA; Dissent by Judge FERGUSON

ORDER

TASHIMA, Circuit Judge:

The opinion and dissenting opinion filed on January 31, 2000, and reported at 201 F.3d 1166, are withdrawn and the amended opinion and amended dissenting opinion attached to this order shall be filed in their place. With the filing of the amended opinions, Judges B. Fletcher and Tashima vote to deny the petition for panel rehearing. Judge Ferguson votes to grant the petition for panel rehearing. Judge Tashima votes to deny the petition for rehearing en banc and Judge B. Fletcher so recommends. Judge Ferguson recommends that the petition for rehearing en banc be granted.

The full court has been advised of the petition for rehearing en banc and no judge of the court has requested a vote on en banc rehearing. Fed. R. App. P. 35(b).

The petition for panel rehearing and the petition for rehearing en banc are denied.

OPINION

Oregon state prisoner Clinton K. LaJoie appeals the denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. S 2254, challenging his conviction for rape, sodomy, and sexual abuse of a minor child, "VN".1 LaJoie contends that his Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated when evidence of VN's past sexual abuse by others was excluded, pursuant to Oregon's rape shield law, Oregon Evidence Code, Rule 412 ("Rule 412"), for failure to give the required 15-day notice of intent to introduce such evidence.2 Because the exclusion of the evidence was an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law, as determined by the United States Supreme Court, the district court erred in denying the petition. We therefore reverse and remand.

I. BACKGROUND

LaJoie was accused of sexually abusing, orally sodomizing, and raping his housemate Jackie Williams' niece, VN, when she was approximately seven and eight years old. VN resided with LaJoie and Williams at the time of the alleged sexual assaults. Uncontested evidence shows that VN had been sexually abused by several others and raped by one other man in unrelated incidents. In addition, the Children's Services Division's ("CSD") case file on VN reveals other potential sources of sexual abuse.

After several continuances, LaJoie's trial was set to commence on October 31, 1989. On October 24, LaJoie filed a notice of intent to offer evidence of past sexual abuse suffered by VN and also filed a motion to compel the production of evidence in the CSD case file pertaining to this abuse. LaJoie sought to introduce evidence of VN's history of sexual abuse for three purposes: (1) to provide an alternate source of VN's ability to explain sexual acts; (2) to offer an alternative explanation for the medical evidence of abuse that the prosecution would be offering; and (3) to support LaJoie's argument that VN's allegations were false and were invited by CSD caseworkers. The State moved to strike this evidence based on LaJoie's failure to give notice 15 days before the start of trial, as required under Rule 4123.

On October 31, 1989, the day the trial was scheduled to begin, the trial court conducted an in camera review of the CSD file. It concluded that the file contained evidence potentially admissible under Rule 412(2)(b)(B), because it was relevant to rebut or explain medical evidence offered by the State. It also determined that one piece of evidence was relevant to motive or bias of the alleged victim and thus was potentially admissible under Rule 412(2)(b)(A). The court, nonetheless, excluded the evidence because LaJoie did not meet the 15-day notice requirement.

LaJoie made an offer of proof of the excluded evidence to complete the record. Counsel stated that he would generally have relied on the evidence to offer "alternative explanations for the jury's consideration of prolonged sexual contact." The specific evidence from the CSD case file he intended to offer was that: (1) Michael Patterson had raped VN's brother and that he may have assaulted VN when she was two years old; (2) a boyfriend of VN's mother, Mike Forrest, may have sexually assaulted VN; (3) VN's great-uncle Daniel Leuck had admitted to fondling her rectal and vaginal areas on several occasions; (4) Brian Dayton, a teenager, had pulled down her pants on one occasion; and (5) Russell Watkins, another of her mother's boyfriends, had been convicted of raping and sexually abusing VN.

Dr. Scott Halpert testified for the State that he had examined VN and found that she had scarring on her hymen consistent with penetration and sexual abuse.4 The only evidence the jury heard suggesting any source of sexual abuse other than LaJoie was a stipulated statement that VN had reported that Leuck had put his hands down her shorts and touched her front, and that Dayton had pulled her pants down with his sister watching. No evidence was presented that Watkins had been convicted of raping VN.

LaJoie was convicted of rape, sodomy, and sexual abuse, all in the first degree. He was sentenced to consecutive terms totaling 45 years with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.

LaJoie appealed his conviction, contending that the trial court's ruling under the notice provision of Rule 412 denied him his Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The Oregon Court of Appeals summarily affirmed the trial court's judgment. See State v. LaJoie, 804 P.2d 1230 (Or. Ct. App. 1991). On discretionary review, the Oregon Supreme Court affirmed in a divided, 4-3, decision. See State v. LaJoie , 849 P.2d 479 (Or. 1993).

On December 31, 1996, LaJoie filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. SS 2241 and 2254. He alleges that the trial court's exclusion of evidence offered under Rule 412 violated his Sixth Amendment rights of confrontation and compulsory process and his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process. The district court denied LaJoie's petition. LaJoie filed a timely notice of appeal, and the district court issued a certificate of appealability. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. SS 1291 and 2253.

II. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

We review de novo a district court's decision to grant or deny a S 2254 habeas petition. See Eslaminia v. White, 136 F.3d 1234, 1236 (9th Cir. 1998). The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), Pub. L. No. 104132, 1996 U.S.C.C.A.N. (110 Stat.) 1214, applies to LaJoie's petition because he filed it after the AEDPA's effective date, April 24, 1996. See Jeffries v. Wood, 114 F.3d 1484, 1499 (9th Cir.) (en banc), cert. denied, 118 S. Ct. 586 (1997). Under the AEDPA, "a federal court may grant a writ of habeas corpus if the relevant state-court decision was either (1) `contrary to . . . clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States,' or (2) `involved an unreasonable application of . . . clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States.' " Williams v. Taylor , 120 S. Ct. 1495, 1519 (2000) (quoting 28 U.S.C. S 2254(d)(1)) (emphases and alterations in the original).

In Tran v. Lindsay, 212 F.3d 1143 (9th Cir. May 16, 2000), we noted the "distinct meanings" of "contrary to" and "unreasonable application of," as elucidated by Justice O'Connor in Williams:

A state court's decision can be "contrary to" federal law either 1) if it fails to apply the correct controlling authority, or 2) if it applies the controlling authority to a case involving facts "materially indistinguish able" from those in a controlling case, but nonetheless reaches a different result. A state court's decision can involve an unreasonable application of federal law if it either 1) correctly identifies the governing rule but then applies it to a new set of facts in a way that is objectively unreasonable, or 2) extends or fails to extend a clearly established legal principle to a new context in a way that is objectively unreasonably.

Id. at 1149-50 (citing Williams, 120 S. Ct. at 1519-20).

"We review the determination of what is `clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States,' under 28 U.S.C. S 2254(d)(1), as a question of law which we must decide de novo." Canales v. Roe, 151 F.3d 1226, 1228-29 (9th Cir. 1998).

III. DISCUSSION

"Whether rooted directly in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, or in the Compulsory Process or Confrontation clauses of the Sixth Amendment,[5] the Constitution guarantees criminal defendants `a meaningful opportunity to present a complete defense.' " Crane v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 683, 690 (1986) (quoting California v. Trombetta, 467 U.S. 479, 485 (1984)) (citations omitted). In discussing the Compulsory Process Clause, the Supreme Court has held that "[o]ur cases establish, at a minimum, that criminal defendants have the right to the government's assistance in compelling the attendance of favorable witnesses at trial and the right to put before a jury evidence that might influence the determination of guilt." Pennsylvania v. Ritchie, 480 U.S. 39, 56 (1987) (footnote omitted). "The defendant's right to compulsory process is itself designed to vindicate the principle that the `ends of criminal...

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