Lujan v. Tansy, No. 92-2114

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore McKAY; STEPHEN H. ANDERSON
Citation2 F.3d 1031
PartiesNoe D. LUJAN, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Robert J. TANSY, Respondent-Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 92-2114
Decision Date11 August 1993

Page 1031

2 F.3d 1031
Noe D. LUJAN, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
Robert J. TANSY, Respondent-Appellee.
No. 92-2114.
United States Court of Appeals,
Tenth Circuit.
Aug. 11, 1993.

Page 1032

Tova Indritz, Federal Public Defender, Albuquerque, NM, for petitioner-appellant.

Margaret McLean, Asst. Atty. Gen. (Tom Udall, Atty. Gen., with her on the brief), Santa Fe, NM, for respondent-appellee.

Before McKAY, Chief Judge, WOOD, * and ANDERSON, Circuit Judges.

STEPHEN H. ANDERSON, Circuit Judge.

Petitioner/Appellant Noe Lujan appeals from the denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, asserting that his constitutional rights were violated by the refusal to give certain jury instructions and by the exclusion of certain testimony. We affirm.

BACKGROUND

The basic facts of this case are undisputed, and have been recounted in the published decision of the New Mexico Supreme Court affirming Lujan's conviction:

The facts of the case are relatively simple. The defendant, after being taunted by his ex-wife, Cecilia, an hour earlier in the evening, returned to the location where he had last seen her and shot and killed her. Nearly an hour later, defendant appeared at the home of Joey Trujillo, a long-time acquaintance [and Cecilia's alleged lover], and shot and killed him. Lujan later surrendered to the police.

State v. Lujan, 94 N.M. 232, 608 P.2d 1114, 1115 (1980). Lujan was charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

Lujan's defense at trial was that, because of a progressive organic brain disorder (slight frontal cortical atrophy) in conjunction with a build-up of stress resulting from his divorce, Cecilia's alleged infidelity during her marriage to Lujan, and "worries about his children," he was rendered either legally insane at the time of the shootings, or at least incapable of forming the deliberate intent to take the life of another, which is required for a conviction of first-degree murder.

Lujan underwent a series of psychological and psychiatric tests in preparation for his trial, and a number of medical experts, as well as friends, family members and coworkers, testified at his trial about his mental condition. There was no dispute that he did indeed suffer from the progressive organic brain disorder. There was testimony "that he had difficulty controlling his emotions. There was conflicting evidence on whether Lujan could control himself or his emotions on the night of the crime." Lujan, 608 P.2d at 1115.

The New Mexico Supreme Court further recounted as follows:

At one point, the defense called Ramona Santillanes, who in a tender of proof offered testimony that Cecilia had admitted to her, while still married to defendant,

Page 1033

that she had become involved in an adulterous affair with Joey [Trujillo], and that the defendant knew about it. The court ruled that the testimony was irrelevant and was hearsay. Another witness, Rose Chavez, who was a health worker, offered testimony that Cecilia had contracted a venereal disease from someone other than defendant. The court ruled this testimony was irrelevant.

Id. Lujan was convicted on both counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.

In his direct appeal of his conviction to the New Mexico Supreme Court, Lujan argued four issues: (1) whether the court erred in refusing to admit the testimony of witnesses Chavez and Santillanes; (2) whether the court erred "in refusing to give a diminished capacity instruction based on an inability to form a deliberate intent;" (3) whether the court erred in refusing to instruct on the lesser included offenses of second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter; and (4) whether the court erred in refusing to instruct on the consequences of a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity. Id., 608 P.2d at 1114-15.

The state supreme court affirmed his conviction, holding that the testimony of Santillanes and Chavez was properly excluded because it was "merely cumulative of evidence of defendant's emotional stress and its causes already presented by other witnesses." Id., 608 P.2d at 1115. It further held that there was no error in the refusal to give the diminished capacity instructions, because New Mexico law only required those instructions "when the defendant is charged with willful and deliberate first-degree murder and the evidence will support a finding of inability to form intent" and "[t]here is evidence in the record that [Lujan] was able to form a deliberate intention, with no evidence to the contrary." Id. (emphasis added).

With regard to the lesser-included offenses instruction issue, the court observed that Lujan never offered a second-degree murder instruction, "so the trial court did not err in failing to give the instruction" and that there was "no evidence that the homicide was committed either in the heat of passion or upon a sudden quarrel" so as to warrant the giving of a voluntary manslaughter instruction under New Mexico law. Id., 608 P.2d at 1116. Finally, the court held that, under then-applicable New Mexico law, the jury need not be instructed on the consequences of rendering a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity, so there was no error in not so instructing. Id.

Lujan then filed his first petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico, arguing that those same four trial errors violated his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process. The petition was dismissed on its merits, but on appeal to this court, the petition was remanded for exhaustion of state remedies, on the theory that the state courts had not yet been presented with the allegation that the four alleged trial court errors violated Lujan's federal constitutional rights.

Lujan proceeded to exhaust his state remedies, by filing: (1) a post-conviction motion pro se in the District Court of McKinley County, New Mexico, which was denied in April, 1985; (2) a counsel-assisted Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus in the District Court of Santa Fe County, New Mexico, in which he argued the same four issues he had raised in his first federal habeas petition, and which was dismissed without explanation in May, 1985; and (3) a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the New Mexico Supreme Court, which was dismissed without explanation in August, 1988.

Lujan finally returned to federal court with the present petition in November, 1989, arguing the same four issues he has pursued through direct appeal and state collateral proceedings. Thus, he argues error in the refusal to admit the Santillanes and Chavez testimony; error in the refusal to give deliberate intent instructions as part of the instructions on the defense of insanity; error in the refusal to give lesser-included offense instructions on second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter; and error in refusing to instruct on the consequences of a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Page 1034

The magistrate judge to whom the petition was referred made findings and recommended dismissal of the petition, concluding that the exclusion of the Santillanes and Chavez testimony did not deny Lujan his due process rights; that the jury instruction issues were "matters of state law" and that the interpretation of the New Mexico Supreme Court of these state law matters was neither arbitrary nor discriminatory nor so "fundamentally unfair that the Petitioner was denied his right to a fair trial." The district court adopted the magistrate judge's proposed findings and recommendation and dismissed the petition.

I. Exclusion of Witness Testimony

Lujan argues that the testimony of Santillanes and Chavez was critical to his defense because it would have provided the only evidence that he knew in fact that his wife was unfaithful to him, an issue which he asserts was "directly material to [his] defense that his acts were not murder, but voluntary manslaughter." Appellant's Brief in Chief at 34. He argues that evidence provided the foundation for his requested voluntary manslaughter instruction, and that the exclusion of that testimony therefore violated his Sixth Amendment right to present his defense and his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process and a fair trial.

In a habeas proceeding claiming a denial of due process, "we will not question the evidentiary or procedural rulings of the state court unless [the petitioner] can show that, because of the court's actions, his trial, as a whole, was rendered fundamentally unfair." Tapia v. Tansy, 926 F.2d 1554, 1557 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 112 S.Ct. 115, 116 L.Ed.2d 84 (1991); see also Nichols v. Sullivan, 867 F.2d 1250, 1253 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, 490 U.S. 1112, 109 S.Ct. 3169, 104 L.Ed.2d 1031 (1989). Underlying factual findings by the state court are accorded a presumption of correctness. 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2254(d); Tapia, 926 F.2d at 1557; Case v. Mondragon, 887 F.2d 1388, 1392 (10th Cir.1989),...

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68 practice notes
  • Hatch v. State of Okl., No. 94-6052
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • June 14, 1995
    ...(10th Cir.1995), a state court's factual findings are entitled to a presumption of correctness, 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2254(d); Lujan v. Tansy, 2 F.3d 1031, 1034 (10th Cir.1993), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 114 S.Ct. 1074, 127 L.Ed.2d 392 (1994). In other words, "[a] federal court may not overturn......
  • Benton v. Addison, Case No. 14-CV-026-JED-PJC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. Northern District of Oklahoma
    • July 30, 2015
    ...'even if in our view there was sufficient evidence to warrant the giving of an instruction on a lesser included offense.'" Lujan v. Tansy, 2 F.3d 1031, 1036 (10th Cir. 1993) (quoting Chavez v. Kerby, 848 F.2d 1101, 1103 (10th Cir. 1988)); see also Hicks v. Jones, 350 F. App'x 199, 202 (10th......
  • Neely v. Newton, No. 97-2161
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • June 24, 1998
    ...(alteration in original) (quoting Connors v. United States, 158 U.S. 408, 413, 15 S.Ct. 951, 39 L.Ed. 1033 (1895)). In Lujan v. Tansy, 2 F.3d 1031 (10th Cir.1993), this court rejected an argument similar to that advanced by Neely. In that case, the defendant argued the trial judge's failure......
  • Mitchell v. Ward, No. CIV-97-283-T.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Oklahoma
    • August 27, 1999
    ...Petitioner must show that, "because of the court's actions, his trial, as a whole, was rendered fundamentally unfair." Lujan v. Tansy 2 F.3d 1031, 1033 (10th Cir.1993) (citing Tapia v. Tansy, 926 F.2d 1554, 1557 (10th Cir.1991)). Therefore, this Court's role in reviewing Petitioner's claim ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
68 cases
  • Hatch v. State of Okl., No. 94-6052
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • June 14, 1995
    ...(10th Cir.1995), a state court's factual findings are entitled to a presumption of correctness, 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2254(d); Lujan v. Tansy, 2 F.3d 1031, 1034 (10th Cir.1993), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 114 S.Ct. 1074, 127 L.Ed.2d 392 (1994). In other words, "[a] federal court may not overturn......
  • Benton v. Addison, Case No. 14-CV-026-JED-PJC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. Northern District of Oklahoma
    • July 30, 2015
    ...'even if in our view there was sufficient evidence to warrant the giving of an instruction on a lesser included offense.'" Lujan v. Tansy, 2 F.3d 1031, 1036 (10th Cir. 1993) (quoting Chavez v. Kerby, 848 F.2d 1101, 1103 (10th Cir. 1988)); see also Hicks v. Jones, 350 F. App'x 199, 202 (10th......
  • Neely v. Newton, No. 97-2161
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • June 24, 1998
    ...(alteration in original) (quoting Connors v. United States, 158 U.S. 408, 413, 15 S.Ct. 951, 39 L.Ed. 1033 (1895)). In Lujan v. Tansy, 2 F.3d 1031 (10th Cir.1993), this court rejected an argument similar to that advanced by Neely. In that case, the defendant argued the trial judge's failure......
  • Mitchell v. Ward, No. CIV-97-283-T.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Oklahoma
    • August 27, 1999
    ...Petitioner must show that, "because of the court's actions, his trial, as a whole, was rendered fundamentally unfair." Lujan v. Tansy 2 F.3d 1031, 1033 (10th Cir.1993) (citing Tapia v. Tansy, 926 F.2d 1554, 1557 (10th Cir.1991)). Therefore, this Court's role in reviewing Petitioner's claim ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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