April 2nd 2004 – Cooper vs. Vasquez/Cooper vs. Calderon

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed Kevin Cooper’s execution on February 9, 2004, and permitted him to file a new habeas corpus petition in federal court alleging that he was innocent and was framed.

Cooper filed his new petition on April 2, 2004. His petition was assigned, as had his previous federal habeas corpus petitions, to the Honorable Marilyn L. Huff of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California in San Diego, California. Cooper’s new habeas corpus petition sought, among other things, mitochondrial DNA testing of the hairs clutched in the victims’ hands and testing to determine whether Kevin Cooper’s blood had earlier been planted on blood spot A-41 found in the Ryen’s house and on the tan t-shirt found near the crime scene. It also presented for the first time claims related to the manipulation of Josh Ryen’s testimony, evidence from eye witnesses who had never been interviewed by law enforcement who, on the night of the murders, had seen three white men in a nearby bar, one of whom appeared to be wearing bloody clothing. He also presented evidence from the warden of the prison from which Cooper escaped that the prison did not provide “special” tennis shoes to prisoners, as the prosecution had asserted at Cooper’s trial in 2004-5, but rather shoes available at retail and that she had alerted the prosecution to these facts.

Judge Huff refused to permit Cooper to pursue his claims related to the manipulation of Josh Ryen’s testimony. As to testing to determine whether Cooper’s blood had been planted on A-41 and the tan t-shirt, Judge Huff refused to permit any testing of A-41. When testing of the tan t-shirt by the prosecution’s own expert revealed heightened levels of blood preservative “EDTA,” thus confirming that Cooper’s blood had been planted, Judge Huff allowed the prosecution’s expert to withdraw his test results and refused to permit Cooper to investigate why his test results should be withdrawn.

On May 27th 2005, after an evidentiary hearing in which Cooper asserts Judge Huff failed to follow the 9th Circuit’s February 9, 2004 order and denied him the most fundamental due process, Judge Huff issued an opinion denying all of Kevin Cooper’s claims.

Commenting on those proceedings, in a dissenting opinion 9th in May 2009 Judge William Fletcher said:

“There is no way to say this politely. The district court failed to provide Cooper a fair hearing and flouted our direction to perform the two tests. [T]he district court impeded and obstructed Cooper’s attorneys at every turn as they sought to develop the record. The court imposed unreasonable conditions that should have been available as a matter of course; limited testimony that should not have been limited; and found facts unreasonably, based upon a truncated and distorted record.” 565 F.3d 581.

Read Judge Fletcher’s opinion of the district court proceedings. [link]

Read Judge Fletcher’s entire opinion. [link]

Read the transcripts of the evidentiary hearings before Judge Huff. [link]

Read comments about Judge Huff from “The Robing Room.” [link]


INDEX – Evidentiary Hearing Transcripts (2004-2005)-x

2005-05-27 – Huff Ruling (Lexis)-x