Long v. Hooks, No. 18-6980 (4th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Petitioner has been in prison for 44 years for a rape and burglary that he consistently maintained that he did not commit, claiming that police deliberately suppressed exculpatory evidence. The district court dismissed his petition for federal habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254, concluding that the MAR (Motion for Appropriate Relief) Court's decision did not involve an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law. The MAR Court concluded that the cumulative effect of the withheld Brady evidence would have had no impact on petitioner's trial.
The Fourth Circuit held that the MAR Court's analysis subjected petitioner to an enhanced burden, unreasonably applied Supreme Court law, and was objectively unreasonable. In this case, considering both the exculpatory and impeachment effects of the suppressed evidence, together with the shortfalls in the victim's identification and consistent testimony from alibi witnesses, the withheld evidence "could reasonably be taken to put the whole case in such a different light as to undermine confidence in the verdict." Therefore, the court vacated the district court's dismissal of the petition. Because the district court failed to address the issue of whether the petition can survive the threshold requirements pursuant to the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, the court remanded for the district court to consider the issue in the first instance and to permit further discovery requested by petitioner.
This opinion or order relates to an opinion or order originally issued on January 8, 2020.