An appeals court has directed that a man convicted of a 1990 sexual assault and murder receive a new hearing to determine whether police misconduct may have tainted the conviction.
A number of arguments were made by death row inmate Michael Gallegos in his habeas corpus hearing before a panel of the 9th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He also claimed on appeal that he was poorly represented by his attorneys, including failing to adequately challenge the prosecution’s medical expert. Although the panel rejected that argument, they ordered that Gallegos be given a new hearing to see whether he may raise the issue of a violation of his rights under Brady v. Maryland. That case requires, generally, that the prosecution in a criminal case disclose, among other things, exculpatory evidence favorable to a defendant.
Brady and the defendant’s confession
The issue essentially comes down to whether Gallegos was advised of his rights (to counsel, to remain silent, etc.) prior to confessing to the crimes of which he was convicted. There is no signed acknowledgement by Gallegos; rather, the state claimed that he was advised of his rights by Phoenix detective Armando Saldate. Saldate, however, has more than a checkered past when it comes to his truthfulness. Indeed, the 9th Circuit noted in an opinion back in 2013 that Saldate has a history of lying under oath, and engaging in various other tactics that violated the constitutional rights of various criminal defendants. Gallegos says that the prosecution knew of Saldate’s history, but failed to advise the defense.
Because of the procedural status in the case, however, Gallegos will have to jump through another procedural hoop before being able to raise the constitutional claim. At issue is a federal statute (28 U.S.C.§ 2244(d)(1)(D)) that says you have one year from the time the issue could have been discovered using due diligence in which to bring your claim.
Assuming Gallegos prevails on the timeliness issue, he’ll still have to convince the court that the evidence concerning Saldate amounted to a Brady violation.
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