Opinions Relating to Orders - 2022

Chinn v. Shoop

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied. JUSTICE JACKSON, with whom JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR joins, dissenting from the denial of certiorari.

This is a capital case involving a violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U. S. 83 (1963). There is no dispute that, during the capital trial of petitioner Davel Chinn, the State suppressed exculpatory evidence indicating that the State’s key witness, Marvin Washington, had an intellectual disability that may have affected Washington’s ability to remember, perceive fact from fiction, and testify accurately. When affirming on direct appeal, the Ohio Supreme Court said “[i]f the jury accepted Washington’s testimony, the jury was certain to convict [Chinn], but if the jury did not believe Washington, it was certain to acquit [Chinn] of all charges.” State v. Chinn, 85 Ohio St. 3d 548, 561, 709 N. E. 2d 1166, 1178 (1999). Similarly, the Ohio Court of Appeals said that Washington was the “key” and “main” witness against Chinn. State v. Chinn, 2001–Ohio–1550, 2001 WL 788402, *2, *8 (July 13, 2001).

Yet, when confronted during state postconviction proceedings with the State’s suppression of evidence that would have substantially impeached this key witness, the Ohio courts suddenly concluded that evidence was not “material” enough to have affected the trial. I write to emphasize the relatively low burden that is “materiality” for purposes of Brady and Strickland v. Washington, 466 U. S. 668 (1984). To prove prejudice under both Brady and Strickland, a defendant must show “a reasonable probability” of a different outcome.