Doug Waddington, Superintendent, Washington Corrections Center v. Cesar Sarausad
Pattern Jury Instructions, Accomplice Liability, Burden of Proof, Due Process
The Washington Supreme Court has repeatedly approved of the pattern accomplice liability jury instructions given in Sarausad's trial, which mirror the statutory language on accomplice liability under state law. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found a violation of due process based on its independent conclusion that the instructions were ambiguous, and that there was a reasonable likelihood a jury could misapply the instructions so as to relieve the prosecution of its burden to prove each element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
1. In reviewing a due process challenge to jury instructions brought under 28 U.S.C. section 2254, must the federal courts accept the state court determination that the instructions fully and correctly set out state law governing accomplice liability?
2. Where the accomplice liability instructions correctly set forth state law, is it an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law to conclude there was no reasonable likelihood that the jury misapplied the instructions so as to relieve the prosecution of the burden of proving all the elements of the crime?
Patricia Novotny - Attorney At Law
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