Crawford v. Cain, No. 20-61019 (5th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Petitioner was convicted of raping a 17-year-old girl, assaulting a 16-year-old girl with a hammer, and raping and murdering a 20-year-old woman. The present appeal involves only Petitioner’s conviction for raping the 17-year-old girl. Petitioner directly appealed his rape conviction in state court and almost succeeded in getting a new trial: The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed his conviction. Petitioner next filed a habeas petition in federal district court, raising thirteen claims. The district court denied Petitioner’s petition but granted him a certificate of appealability (“COA”) on all thirteen claims. Petitioner timely appealed.
The Fifth Circuit affirmed. The court agreed with the district court that the state court could’ve reasonably found the Ake claim unpreserved. Petitioner’s trial counsel withdrew his Ake motion, so the trial court never ruled on it. Petitioner must thus show that every fair-minded jurist would conclude that this is the extraordinary instance where an unpreserved claim was stronger than the preserved claims and that appellate counsel’s failure to press the unpreserved Ake claim was tantamount to providing no appellate counsel at all. Here, Petitioner cannot come close to that showing. Further, the court wrote that Petitioner cannot surmount AEDPA’s relitigation bar. Contrary to Petitioner’s suggestion, every fair-minded jurist would not think that the absence of an expert for an insanity defense is per se error. Finally, the court held that law and justice do not compel issuance of the writ in the absence of factual innocence, and Petitioner can’t make the required showing.
This opinion or order relates to an opinion or order originally issued on December 15, 2022.