Back in 1989, all around piece of shit, David Martinez Ramirez decided to murder his girlfriend and her 15 year old daughter whom he admitted to raping multiple times in the past, as well as right before he’d killed her.
Ramirez’s case leaves little doubt to his guilt. He was found with the bodies in his apartment, covered in blood. Along with the admissions of what he had done to the daughter, it’s pretty much an open and shut case.
However, after he was convicted, he somehow got the idea in his head that he got screwed, so he appealed his conviction, and when he lost over and over again, he even petitioned SCOTUS who were like, “Fuck you, buddy. We’re not going to waste our time with this shit. Burn in hell.”
So why is this case here at SCOTUS then?
Well, you see, Ramirez isn’t just a piece of shit morally, he’s also a piece of shit financially. As such, he couldn’t hire an attorney when he got busted, and instead, got a court appointed attorney. And, it wasn’t even a creative one like Saul Goodman, either. His counsel had zero experience in capital crimes cases. And when I say zero, apparently she’d never even witnessed a capital case from the sidelines. Yet here she is, trying to give this mother fucker the best defense money can’t buy.
So after Ramirez predictably lost, he tried to appeal his sentencing for various reasons in state court. He basically was trying to avoid the death penalty, not to get off for the crime as a whole. Unfortunately, none of his claims were about ineffective counsel. This is the start of his problems.
After he lost on appeal, he went to Arizona Supreme Court, and they were like, “Nah fam, we’re good. Not interested. Enjoy those death penalty drugs, bro.”
Getting no help in Arizona at all, Ramirez filed an appeal in federal court. The federal court however looked at everything and was like, “Yo, Ramirez…call us crazy, but we’re pretty sure your lawyer here doesn’t know what the fuck they’re doing. You sure you want to proceed with this idiot?”
At the heart of the federal courts thoughts on this, was that Ramirez was found competent to understand what he did by a psychologist, justifying the death penalty. Basically, they tend to avoid killing someone who they think is mentally handicapped, because it seems too cruel.
But after his conviction, it came to light, that he had been diagnosed as mentally disabled, and suffered severe abuse himself as a child, including that his shit parents didn’t even feed this fuck for days on end.
So the psychologist was like, “Woah, why didn’t you assholes tell me this ahead of time? I’m trying to diagnose this piece of shit. Didn’t you think that’d be clinically relevant to my diagnosis?”
After allowing Ramirez to amend his appeal to include a claim of “ineffective counsel” they found that Ramirez had never complained about this before in state courts. The rules set forth in the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), basically require you to develop evidence for ineffective counsel BEFORE you get to federal court, otherwise, you can pound sand.
As near as I can tell, they’re basically trying to prevent someone about to get the needle from just throwing out any new defense they can think of, clogging up the courts, just to get out of being put to death.
Also, in Arizona, you have to wait until your trial is over to claim ineffective counsel, because they basically assume you wouldn’t have evidence to support this until after the trial is over. Like by some miracle, you might actually win anyway, or some shit. Plus, kinda a big distraction from the trial at hand.
But in a previous SCOTUS case, Martinez v. Ryan, SCOTUS did rule you can bring up an “ineffective counsel” claim at federal court for this first time.
So the contradiction here is that while SCOTUS said you can bring up the claim, AEDPA says you can’t bring any evidence up to develop that claim at federal court. How does that make a lick of fucking sense, right?
So while the state court was like, “We don’t give a fuck. This quack’s new opinion that maybe he was more fucked up than he originally thought, it wouldn’t have changed a fucking thing for us. We can’t wait to fry this motherfucker like a Chicken McNugget,” the federal court, and I mean every fucking judge on the 9th circuit was like, “Woah, woah, WOAH! What the fuck is wrong with you assholes? Look at that shit again. You need to let this motherfucker bring evidence forth to establish this claim of ineffective counsel.”
It’s also worth noting that while SCOTUS long ago ruled you have the right to effective counsel at trial as part of the 6th amendment, that’s AT TRIAL. They don’t seem to have much of an opinion on whether you have such a right after you’ve been convicted.
As for this case, SCOTUS didn’t give a fuck about Ramirez and his guilt. That shit is settled. They’re here to determine this conflict where AEDPA’s rule prohibits a federal court from hearing Ramirez’s evidence for ineffective counsel at trial if it wasn’t done at the state level, while their own precedent says that he can bring up a claim for ineffective counsel.
Counsel for Ramirez closed with a pretty impassioned and fair argument.
Robert M. Loeb
To say that you have a forum for hearing and one where no one’s ever succeeded in to raise an actual innocence claim is not giving you a forum to vindicate one of the most vital rights, the right to effective trial counsel. You know, whether you’re innocent or guilty, you have a right to a fair hearing.
You have a right to an effective trial counsel.
You have a right to have that vindicated. So it’s like them saying, if you’re coaching a basketball game and one team gets five players and one team gets one player and we’re going to play the game, but, at the end of the game, we’re going to give you a shot from half court and that’s going to make the game fair, that does not make the game fair, Your Honor. There is a right to have trial counsel here, and there was never a fair trial for Mr. Ramirez.
Right? And the fact that they give a Hail Mary opportunity for relief at the end of the day or can give a pardon that does not mean that the right to effective trial counsel is being vindicated here. And as Justice Sotomayor pointed out, as a third argument, which pertains only to Mr. Ramirez, which there was no real meaningful response here, because Mr. Ramirez in the appeal before the panel in the Ninth Circuit clearly was relying on materials beyond that which was presented to the state court. And that was not rejected by the state before the panel.
It was not objected to.
They didn’t say, well, (e)(2) bars consideration of that evidence.
They told the panel to consider that evidence. And the panel then went on to render a decision based on the arguments that they made without even them raising (e)(2).
And, of course, then they have the audacity in their cert position, it’s like to say, well, (e)(2) is not even mentioned in the Ninth Circuit decision.
Well, it’s not mentioned because they didn’t raise it. So there it’s completely sandbagged the Ninth Circuit panel here by only raising this in the en banc petition and then their cert petition and blaming the panel for never reaching the issue that they didn’t raise.
They made a decision not to raise (e)(2) before the panel.
That’s a waiver.
It was not fair to the panel.
It’s certainly not fair to Mr. Ramirez. He would have responded to the (e)(2) argument if it was raised before the panel. So, for Mr. Ramirez, you should affirm on the additional basis that the claims against him were waived.
In a 6:3 partisan decision, Justice Clarence Thomas and company sided with Shinn (The state of Arizona). Congress wrote AEDPA, and it says what it says. States are supposed to have power over their jurisdictions vs federal courts. So if they lay out a procedure, and someone they convict doesn’t follow it, well, them’s the breaks.
Justice Thomas basically said, it’s not fair for the federal government to come in and tell the state how to do their business of running a court, conviction, etc., unless it violates the constitution, which nothing here does. That while they did rule in Martinez to allow the introduction of “ineffective counsel” claims, their ruling was quite narrow, and only applied to such claims, where someone was denied constitutional rights, not this shit Ramirez is facing.
It’s also worth noting, about half of Thomas’ opinion cited the heinousness of the underlying crimes, which wasn’t really at issue here, but clearly influenced the majority to not be keen to help this fucker in any way, avoid being put to death.
Kagan, Sotomayor, and Breyer however, were like, “You conservative pricks are racist, and clearly hate Latinos. If someone has shit counsel at the state level, and they don’t really figure it out until the federal level, you’re basically telling them you don’t care about justice, you just don’t want to waste anyone’s time. But this idiot’s gonna die in your interest of saving time, and that’s not cool.
AEDPA tried to set some sort of balance between the state’s rights to manage this shit, and the federal government’s rights to step in, if the state court isn’t acting to the defendant’s liking. But you assholes basically want to let the state do whatever the fuck they want.
Read and out the case and hear oral arguments here at Oyez and here at SCOTUSBlog.