Insyxiengmay v. Morgan
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
403 F.3d 657 (2005)
Oloth Insyxiengmay (defendant) was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of first-degree assault for attacking teenagers who egged Insyxiengmay’s gang hideout. During pretrial hearings, the prosecutor informed Insyxiengmay’s counsel that a confidential informant provided information leading to Insyxiengmay’s codefendant’s arrest. Insyxiengmay’s counsel moved for disclosure of the informant’s identity. The trial judge held an in camera hearing to discuss the informant’s testimony. The judge barred Insyxiengmay’s attorney from the in camera hearing, did not allow counsel to submit questions for the informant, and prohibited Insyxiengmay’s attorney from telling Insyxiengmay that the informant existed. The only witness at the in camera hearing was Deputy Cassio, who admitted that the informant, Kong Prak, belonged to Insyxiengmay’s gang and regularly provided reliable information on that gang’s members. Prak was in the car with Insyxiengmay’s codefendant when the codefendant was arrested, and Cassio falsified the arrest report to omit Prak’s name. The trial court refused to disclose Prak’s identity to the defense, finding that the confidential informant had no information that would benefit Insyxiengmay’s defense. Washington state courts affirmed Insyxiengmay’s conviction, denying Insyxiengmay’s Sixth Amendment claim that the in camera hearing barred him from a critical trial stage. Insyxiengmay filed a federal habeas petition that raised the Sixth Amendment claim and other issues. The district court dismissed Insyxiengmay’s petition without holding an evidentiary hearing, finding that Insyxiengmay did not prove that the Sixth Amendment violation prejudiced his defense. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a certificate of appealability. The parties did not contest that the in camera hearing violated Insyxiengmay’s Sixth Amendment rights but disputed whether the violation prejudiced him.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Reinhardt, J.)
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