The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals today refused to back off its decision to grant habeas relief for a teenage mass murderer despite being told to reconsider by the Supreme Court. For the second time, a split en banc panel held that the suspect was improperly informed of his Miranda rights and that his confession was not voluntary.
Despite direction from the Supreme Court to review that holding in light of a recent Miranda-related opinion, Florida v. Powell, the majority again held that 17-year-old Johnathan Doody's advisement of rights "completely obfuscated the core precepts of Miranda," and that the "relentless overnight questioning of a sleep-deprived teenager by a tag team of officers overbore the will of that teen, rendering his confession involuntary."
Doody was convicted of taking part in the murder of nine people, including six monks, whose bodies were found face down in a circle, each with a bullet to the head, in a Buddhist temple in Arizona in 1991.
In a concurrence, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski explained that Powell doesn't change the analysis, rather it "reaffirms the standard for determining Miranda compliance that its prior cases had established." And the facts in Powell are different in that the High Court said any misleading Miranda statement was cured by a final warning that the suspect had a "right to use any of these rights at any time."
"Not so here," Kozinski wrote in Doody v. Ryan. "The Miranda warnings Doody was given were affirmatively misleading."
Enter Judge Richard Tallman and his colleagues in dissent. They began by noting the "Supreme Court has repeatedly told us to adhere to the highly deferential standard of review of the state court judgments" required under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act in federal habeas cases.