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Schurz v. Ryan

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

September 12, 2013

Eldon M. Schurz, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
Charles L. Ryan, Arizona Department of Corrections, Respondent-Appellee.

Argued and Submitted April 19, 2012—San Francisco, California

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona Earl H. Carroll, Senior District Judge, Presiding D.C. No. CV-97-00580-EHC

COUNSEL

Jennifer Y. Garcia (argued) and Paula K. Harms, Assistant Federal Public Defenders, and Jon M. Sands, Federal Public Defender, Phoenix, Arizona, for Petitioner-Appellant.

John Pressley Todd (argued), Assistant Attorney General, Arizona Attorney General's Office, Phoeniz, Arizona, and Terry Goddard, Attorney General, Kent Cattani, Chief Counsel, Criminal Appeals/Capital Litigation Section, and Melissa Alice Parham, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Appeals/Capital Litigation Section, Phoenix, Arizona, for Respondents-Appellees.

Before: Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge, M. Margaret McKeown and N. Randy Smith, Circuit Judges.

SUMMARY[*]

Habeas Corpus/Death Penalty

The panel denied a 28 U.S.C. § 2254 habeas corpus petition challenging a murder conviction and capital sentence alleging ineffective assistance for failure to present mitigating evidence.

The panel rejected petitioner's claim that counsel was ineffective by failing to present evidence about his drug abuse and dysfunctional family life, because the evidence he cited would have been cumulative. The panel addressed the remaining evidence that petitioner presented as speculative, minimally relevant at best, and concluded that the evidence was not reasonably likely to have made an impact at sentencing.

OPINION

KOZINSKI, Chief Judge.

You can't always get what you want. But Eldon Schurz just about did. He wanted the judge who sentenced him to hear a laundry list of mitigating evidence, and his attorney dutifully presented it. Because the judge had most of the mitigating evidence, Schurz can't show any prejudice from his attorney's alleged ineffective assistance. Thus, we affirm the district court.

I. BACKGROUND

Late one evening, a thirsty Eldon Schurz and two friends approached a group of people drinking behind a motel and demanded a beer. When they ...


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