Cases & Deals

Death row inmate secures writ of habeas corpus from Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals

Clients Magnan, David B.

On June 14, 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ordered the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma to issue a writ of habeas corpus to the Oklahoma state courts for David Magnan. Mr. Magnan, a Native American, was convicted of murder and sentenced to death by a state court in Oklahoma. Mr. Magnan filed a habeas corpus petition in federal court asserting that the State of Oklahoma lacked jurisdiction to prosecute him because his crimes occurred in Indian Country and therefore fell under exclusive federal jurisdiction. The District Court found that the property at issue lost its status as Indian Country prior to the crimes and, therefore, the State's conviction was valid.

Jones Day represented Mr. Magnan pro bono for his appeal to the Tenth Circuit, which reversed the District Court's decision. Applying the highly deferential standard imposed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, the Tenth Circuit, in a unanimous opinion, concluded that the Oklahoma court's decision that it had jurisdiction was based on an "unreasonable determination of the facts" regarding the property's title history. The Court held that the property remained Indian Country at the time of Magnan's crimes and, accordingly, that he must be prosecuted in federal court. Because the property is associated with the Seminole Tribe, which has not agreed to application of the death penalty in its territory, Magnan would not be eligible for the death penalty based on a federal conviction.

Jones Day partner Chad Readler (Columbus) argued the case. The Jones Day team also included Ken Grose, Zach Klein, and Sergio Tostado from Columbus and Rob Haffke from Cleveland.

Magnan v. Trammell, No. 11-7072 (10th Cir. June 14, 2013)

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