Godinez v. Moran Page 14

Godinez v. Moran general information

Media for Godinez v. Moran

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 21, 1993 in Godinez v. Moran

Cal J. Potter, III:

And the existing law, Sieling v. Eyman, that case encompasses the same thing that Melacor v. the Nevada Supreme Court, which incorporates the Pate type hearing, is the same analysis.

And that was the argument that we made.

Byron R. White:

If you're not defending the higher standard requirement that the Ninth Circuit insisted on, I suppose if we disabuse them of that we could, we wouldn't need to decide the argument you're making now.

We could remand and you could take it up to the court of appeals, which is what you argued to them anyway.

Cal J. Potter, III:

That's correct, Your Honor.

But the incidence in this situation is that they did, the state courts did apply the wrong standard.

We were essentially dealing with an argument about competency to waive counsel, Westbrook, and they were dealing with Faretta.

We were talking about actual competency and they stayed with actual competency and did not do anything with our argument about due process in terms of the Pate analysis.

And those were the arguments that were made.

William H. Rehnquist:

Thank you, Mr. Potter.

Mr. Sarnowski, you have 4 minutes remaining.

David F. Sarnowski:

The Ninth Circuit clearly disposed of this case below by applying the heightened standard.

At page A-27 of the petition the lower court's decision is set forth in which it says that certain observations made by the trial court were inadequate to show that Mr. Moran was competent according to the higher standard of reasoned choice that the law requires.

Antonin Scalia:

I suppose it would have had to do that in order to reverse the state court's determination, wouldn't it, because otherwise the state court's determination is subject to deference under 2254(d)?

David F. Sarnowski:

That's our position, Justice Scalia.

Antonin Scalia:

You think that's why the Ninth Circuit felt constrained to find a higher standard?

David F. Sarnowski:

I suppose it would border somewhat on speculation on my part, but it would seem that's one reading of their decision.

In this case if the higher standard does not apply, deference must be afforded.

Mr. Potter's argument was that no hearing was held, and that's what they really proffered to the Ninth Circuit as a basis for relief, fails to recognize that a hearing was held.

And although this Court has said that it is not the preferred method of assessing competence to have a hearing after the fact, the fact of the matter is that the same trial judge conducted a hearing and applied the burden of proof to the same party who had the burden under Nevada state law, Doggett v. State, a 1977 case, to show that he was incompetent.

Of course this Court just said last term that it is not impermissible to require a defendant to bear that burden of proof, in Medina.

He didn't bear that burden of proof, and in fact the judge was singularly unpersuaded by his proffer of evidence and his failure to show how the medication impacted the defendant at the time of the entry of plea and waiver of counsel situation.

The Nevada Supreme Court affirmed that.

He had his hearing.

And this Court's recent pronouncement in Keeney v. Thomiel Reyes would seem to say the fact that he didn't present the evidence then requires him to make a showing of cause and prejudice, and he hasn't even argued that, much less shown it.

He should not be given the second opportunity in the Federal courts to do what he had the opportunity to do, but did not, in the state courts.

If the Court has no further questions, I have no further argument.

William H. Rehnquist:

Thank you, Mr. Sarnowski.

The case is submitted.

The honorable court is now adjourned until Monday next at ten o'clock.