Ortiz v. Yates, No. 11-56383 (9th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Petitioner was convicted of willful infliction of corporal injury to his spouse. Defendant contended that he was denied his Sixth Amendment right to confront adverse witnesses when the trial judge precluded his counsel from asking defendant's wife whether she was afraid to deviate from her initial incriminating statement to the police because of threats allegedly made against her by the prosecutor. The court held that clearly established federal law, as set forth by the Supreme Court, indicated that the trial court committed constitutional error by denying petitioner the right to meaningful cross-examination of the prosecution's leading witness. The California Court of Appeal's conclusion that the trial court's curtailment did not reach constitutional magnitude was objectively unreasonable, and had a substantial injurious effect on petitioner's verdict. Therefore, the court reversed the judgment of the district court denying habeas corpus and remanded for issuance of the writ.