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Hampton v. Profiri

United States District Court, D. Arizona

October 16, 2019

Tracy Allen Hampton, Petitioner,
v.
Joe Profiri[1], et al., Respondents.

         DEATH PENALTY CASE

          ORDER

          Honorable Roslyn O. Silver Senior United States District Judge

         Before the Court is Petitioner Tracy Allen Hampton's motion to alter or amend the judgment. (Doc. 108.) Respondents filed a response and Petitioner filed a reply. (Docs. 118, 119.) For the following reasons, Petitioner's motion is denied.

         I. Applicable Law

         A party may move a court to alter or amend a judgment within 28 days after the entry of the judgment. Fed. R. Civ. 59(e). “[T]here are four basic grounds upon which a Rule 59(e) motion may be granted: (1) if such motion is necessary to correct manifest errors of law or fact upon which the judgment rests; (2) if such motion is necessary to present newly discovered or previously unavailable evidence; (3) if such motion is necessary to prevent manifest injustice; or (4) if the amendment is justified by an intervening change in controlling law.” Allstate Ins. Co. v. Herron, 634 F.3d 1101, 1111 (9th Cir. 2011). “[A]mending a judgment after its entry remains ‘an extraordinary remedy which should be used sparingly.'” Id.

         II. Discussion

         Petitioner asserts that this Court “committed manifest errors of law and fact” related to its denial of Claims 2, 3, and 4. The Court disagrees.

         A. Claim 2

         In Claim 2, Petitioner alleged that his constitutional rights were violated when the trial court admitted the testimony of George Ridley, a jailhouse informant. Specifically, he alleged that the state's failure to timely disclose Ridley's presentence report violated Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), and that the state's failure to correct inaccurate testimony by Ridley violated Napue v. Illinois, 360 U.S. 264 (1959). (Doc. 40 at 55-65.)[2]This Court concluded that Petitioner was not prejudiced by any alleged Brady error, and that any violation of Napue was not material. (Doc. 103 at 14-17.)

         Petitioner asserts that when the Court denied Petitioner's Brady claim, it failed to consider the content of Ridley's presentence report, which included the opinions of Ridley's former wife and probation officer “that Ridley was being untruthful with regard to Hampton” and otherwise had a reputation for untruthfulness. (Doc. 108 at 9.) He asserts that this potential evidence was not cumulative to the impeachment offered during trial. Petitioner made these arguments in his reply in support of his petition (Doc. 68 at 30-33; see also Doc 40 at 60-61), and they remain unpersuasive.

         “[W]hen defense counsel sufficiently impeaches a government witness in cross-examination and closing argument, the defendant cannot later claim a Brady[] violation on account of additional undisclosed evidence supporting the impeachment.” United States v. Kohring, 637 F.3d 895, 908 (9th Cir. 2011); see also Barker v. Fleming, 423 F.3d 1085, 1100 (9th Cir. 2005) (finding no materiality where undisclosed impeachment evidence “was not the glue holding together the prosecution's case” and “heaped-on impeachment evidence” would not have altered the witness's “already shattered credibility”). Ridley was cross examined regarding the truthfulness of his testimony, the basis for his testimony, and his motives to lie. This impeachment occurred during the guilt phase of trial (RT 4/30/02 at 73-75, 97, 105-19) as well as the penalty phase of trial (RT 1/16/03 at 29-38). The content of Ridley's presentence report reiterated that Ridley's incarceration gave him a motive to lie about Hampton's case-it did not provide any “new and different ground of impeachment.” Barker, 423 F.3d at 1097.

         Petitioner emphasizes that although trial counsel presented evidence that Ridley had been arrested for stalking and adamantly wanted to avoid incarceration, counsel allegedly failed to establish that Ridley wanted to avoid incarceration for the specific purpose of pursuing his “obsess[ion] with stalking his ex-wife.” (Doc. 108 at 10.) This is not a new or different ground on which to impeach Ridley. Ridley testified extensively about the charges against him, the possibility that he would be incarcerated for a significant period of time, and his plea agreement with the state, and he ultimately conceded that he was willing “to testify and say whatever it took” to avoid incarceration. (RT 4/30/02 at 105- 12, 114-20; see also RT 1/16/03 at 29-38.) Additional testimony regarding the precise reasons Ridley wanted to avoid incarceration would have been cumulative to the extensive testimony regarding Ridley's plea agreement and his admission that he was willing to lie in court. Petitioner did not establish that there is any probability that the additional information contained in Ridley's presentence report regarding his stalking habits would have had any impact on the jury's verdict. See Browning v. Baker, 875 F.3d 444, 464 (9th Cir. 2017) (“Under Brady, evidence is material ‘if there is a reasonable probability that, had the evidence been disclosed to the defense, the result of the proceeding would have been different.'”).

         Petitioner next asserts that the Court erred in concluding that any Napue violation was not material because the standard for materiality under Napue is low (Doc. 108 at 13- 14), and Ridley's credibility was not as thoroughly impeached during the penalty phase as it had been during the guilt phase (id. at 14-15). The Court again disagrees that the alleged Napue error could have had any effect on the penalty-phase verdict.

         Petitioner agrees (Doc. 108 at 13) that the standard for materiality under Napue is whether “there is ‘any reasonable likelihood that the false testimony could have affected the judgment of the jury.'” Jackson v. Brown, 513 F.3d 1057, 1076 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting Hayes v. Brown, 399 F.3d 972, 985 (9th Cir. 2005)). Here, it is not reasonably likely that the ...


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