On Remand from the United States Supreme Court. D.C. No. CV-LV-80-19-RDF, D.C. No. CV-N-86-445-ECR. This Opinion Substituted by Court for Withdrawn Opinion of April 20, 1993.
Before: Otto R. Skopil, Jr., Jerome Farris and Cynthia Holcomb Hall, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge Farris.
In Deutscher v. Whitley, 991 F.2d 605 (9th Cir. 1993) (Deutscher III), applying the stricter standards the Supreme Court has imposed on claims that a defendant fails to raise in an initial habeas corpus petition, we denied what we assumed to be Henry Deutscher's second petition. We never determined whether Deutscher had in fact previously filed a habeas petition. In his motion for rehearing, Deutscher renews his claim that because he never authorized the habeas petition filed by his original attorney, Herbert Ahlswede, his present habeas petition should be considered his first one.
In response to Deutscher's motion, we remanded the case to the district court for the limited purpose of determining whether Deutscher authorized the filing of his first federal habeas petition. See, e.g., Williams v. Lockhart, 862 F.2d 155, 160 (8th Cir. 1988), cert. denied, 116 L. Ed. 2d 171, 112 S. Ct. 213 (1991). The district court determined that Deutscher had not authorized the first petition. We affirm the district court's findings and grant Deutscher's current habeas petition.
Deutscher was convicted of felony murder and sentenced to death in 1978. After the Nevada Supreme Court affirmed Deutscher's conviction and death sentence, Deutscher v. State, 95 Nev. 669, 601 P.2d 407 (1979), Ahlswede filed a federal habeas petition - purportedly on Deutscher's behalf - which the district court denied.
Before we heard Deutscher's appeal, he changed lawyers. We affirmed the district court's denial of the petition. Ahlswede v. Wolff, 720 F.2d 1108 (9th Cir. 1983), cert. denied, Deutscher v. Wolff, 469 U.S. 873, 83 L. Ed. 2d 155, 105 S. Ct. 225 (1984). In addition, we held that the case could not be remanded to the district court pending completion of state proceedings initiated by new counsel because the petition before the court did not contain any unexhausted claims. Ahlswede, 720 F.2d at 1109.
Deutscher, with the assistance of his new attorney, filed another habeas petition in the district court in 1987. In this petition he claimed, among other things, that Ahlswede provided ineffective representation. The district court denied this petition on its merits. Deutscher v. Whitley, 671 F. Supp. 1264 (D. Nev. 1987); 682 F. Supp. 1098 (D. Nev. 1988). On appeal, we reversed and held that Deutscher was denied effective assistance of counsel because Ahlswede failed to present mitigating evidence at sentencing, despite its availability, and did not challenge an unconstitutional aggravating factor. Deutscher v. Whitley, 884 F.2d 1152, 1159-63 (9th Cir. 1989) (Deutscher I). We also held that the failure to raise the ineffectiveness claim in the Ahlswede petition was not an abuse of the writ under existing law. Id. at 1155-56. In Angelone v. Deutscher, 114 L. Ed. 2d 73, 111 S. Ct. 1678 (1991), the Supreme Court vacated our decision in Deutscher I and remanded the case in light of McCleskey v. Zant, 499 U.S. 467, 111 S. Ct. 1454, 113 L. Ed. 2d 517 (1991), which held that to excuse the omission of a claim from an initial habeas petition, a defendant must show either cause and prejudice, or that a fundamental miscarriage of Justice would result from the court refusing to entertain the claim.
On remand, we found that Deutscher had demonstrated that a fundamental miscarriage of Justice would occur if we did not address his claim. Once again, we held that his sentence must be reversed because of his counsel's ineffectiveness. Deutscher v. Whitley, 946 F.2d 1443, 1446-47 (9th Cir. 1991) (Deutscher II). In Hatcher v. Deutscher, 121 L. Ed. 2d 279, 113 S. Ct. 367 (1992), the Supreme Court vacated our decision in Deutscher II and remanded the case in light of Sawyer v. Whitley, 120 L. Ed. 2d 269, 112 S. Ct. 2514 (1992), which held that in order to demonstrate a fundamental miscarriage of Justice under McCleskey, the petitioner must demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that, but for a constitutional error, no reasonable juror would have sentenced the petitioner to death. On this second remand, we concluded that Deutscher's sentencing, though marred by constitutional defects that more probably than not caused the jury to reach an improper sentence of death, could not be remedied because Sawyer "sharply limits this inquiry when it is raised in a subsequent petition for habeas relief." Deutscher III, 991 F.2d at 607.
The issue is whether Deutscher authorized the original habeas petition filed by Ahlswede. If not, then his present petition should be regarded as his first petition, and McCleskey's and Sawyer 's more stringent standards for claims raised ...