United States District Court, D. Arizona
Dominic W. Lanza United Slates District Judge
before the Court is Petitioner Ruben Johnson's motion for
a declaratory judgment concerning the applicability of the
Arizona Victims' Bill of Rights (“AVBR”) in
this capital habeas proceeding. (Doc. 11.) As explained
below, the motion will be denied.
The Underlying Crime
following factual summary is derived from the Arizona Supreme
Court's decision in State v. Johnson, 133 P.3d
735 (Ariz. 2006). On November 7, 2000, Johnson and a fellow
gang member robbed a massage parlor. Id. at 738-39.
During the robbery, they encountered a witness named
Stephanie Smith. Id. Although Johnson escaped, his
partner was caught by the police. Id. Johnson then
learned, through a court employee, that Smith was scheduled
to testify at his partner's upcoming preliminary hearing.
Id. In response, Johnson pressured an acquaintance
to reveal Smith's home address. Id.
around 1:00 a.m. on November 15, 2000-only a few hours before
the preliminary hearing was scheduled to begin-Johnson and a
different gang member went to Smith's house. Id.
When they arrived, there were four people inside: (1) Smith,
(2) Smith's four-year-old son, (3) a man named Mike Solo,
and (4) a man named Leonard Justice. Id. The latter
two were visitors who did not reside with Smith. Id.
When Solo heard a dog barking behind the house, he went
outside. Id. There, a black male put a gun to
Solo's head, threatened to kill him, and asked who else
was in the house. Id. Next, the gunman pushed Solo
into the house and then told him to leave. Id. Solo
hurried to his car and drove away. Id. In the
meantime, Justice-who had seen what was happening through the
back window of the house-called 911 and handed the phone to
Smith so she could provide her address to the dispatcher.
Id. When Smith and Justice saw Johnson enter the home,
they both tried to hide-Justice hid in the bathroom and Smith
went to a different room. Id. Johnson found Smith
and shot her in the head, killing her. Id.
fled after killing Smith. Id. Two days later,
Johnson showed a newspaper article about the murder to an
acquaintance, admitted he was the unnamed suspect mentioned
in the story, and explained that he'd killed Smith
because she was going to testify against “his cuz or
one of his homies.” Id.
The Underlying Proceedings
was indicted by an Arizona grand jury for the crimes of
first-degree murder, assisting a criminal syndicate or street
gang, first-degree burglary, and armed robbery.
Johnson, 133 P.3d at 738.
November 2001, following a jury trial, Johnson was convicted
on all four counts. Id. “At the conclusion of
the aggravation phase of the sentencing proceeding, a
different jury found three aggravating factors proved beyond
a reasonable doubt: (1) Johnson was previously convicted of a
serious offense, (2) Johnson knowingly created a grave risk
of death to another person in addition to the person
murdered, (3) Johnson committed the offense in an especially
heinous and depraved manner. In the penalty phase, that same
jury determined that Johnson should receive the death
sentence for the charge of first degree murder. The trial
court sentenced him to death for the murder and to
consecutive, aggravated terms on the non-capital
charges.” Id. (citations omitted).
2006, the Arizona Supreme Court affirmed Johnson's
conviction and sentence. Id. at 751.
November 2006, the United States Supreme Court denied
certiorari. Johnson v. Arizona, 549 U.S. 1022
The Arizona ...