The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARILYN PATEL, Chief Judge, District
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
Petitioner Lance Christopher (Chris) Badgett and his brother, John
Kelly (John) Badgett, were convicted of first-degree murder and
conspiracy to commit murder in California state court. Both were
sentenced to terms of twenty-five years to life imprisonment in state
prison. On September 11, 1997, Chris Badgett filed a petition for a writ
of habeas corpus with this court challenging his conviction. He argues
that his conviction should be overturned on three grounds: (1) The trial
court violated his right to due process by refusing to allow a hearing on
the voluntariness of statements made by the prosecution's main witness,
Henrietta (Retta) Jasik; (2) his right to due process was violated based
on a coercive immunity agreement entered into between Retta Jasik and the
prosecution, which allegedly required her to testify consistently with
prior statements; (3) the trial court violated his right to a fair trial
by barring him from asserting a marital privilege based on his common law
marriage to Retta Jasik under Texas law.*fn1
After having reviewed the
record and the parties' arguments and briefs, and for the reasons set
forth below, the court rules as follows.
BACKGROUND*fn2 In February 1989, portions of a dismembered body were discovered washed
up on shore in Santa Cruz, California. Using fingerprints, police
identified the body as that of Michael Palmer. Palmer had originally
accompanied petitioner, John Badgett, and petitioner's companion, Retta
Jasik, from Devine, Texas, to California. John and Chris Badgett fled
Texas to avoid revocation of probation. Palmer accompanied the group to
avoid tax and marital problems. Prior to leaving, all three individuals
had agreed that they would never return to Texas. The brothers and Palmer
moved into a one-bedroom condominium in Santa Clara, California, with
petitioner's sister, Theresa Badgett, her boyfriend, Joe Albano, and
petitioner's companion, Retta Jasik. They selected names in obituary
notices and obtained birth certificates and California driver's licenses
under the names. Jasik secured a job as a cashier, and Palmer and the
brothers secured jobs as security guards.
Based on Palmer's job application and California Department of Motor
Vehicle information, police learned that Palmer's driver's license had
been issued sequentially with three other licenses that belonged to the
Badgett brothers and Jasik under assumed names. Police arrested John and
Chris Badgett on May 26, 1989. They also arrested Jasik for obtaining a
false driver's license. Jasik was seventeen years old at the time, and
she was later transferred to Santa Cruz County juvenile hall.
While in custody, Jasik was interrogated multiple times. Originally she
did not inculpate either of the brothers in the murder. Rather, she
stated that Palmer had returned to Texas and that he had called to report
his safe arrival there. On or about May 30, 1989, Jasik's mother visited
her at juvenile hall. Police suggested to Jasik's mother that John
Badgett had already confessed to the murder and that her daughter would
be released if she told the truth. Shortly thereafter, Jasik gave a
statement inculpating the brothers in the murder.*fn3 She was then
transported to the Santa Cruz County Sheriffs's Department. She was
interrogated again and further implicated the brothers in the murder.
On June 2, 1989, Jasik appeared before the juvenile court for a
detention hearing on charges of obtaining a false identification and
acting as an accessory to murder. She was accompanied by her mother and
her court-appointed attorney, Stuart Rich.*fn4 The parties entered into
a preliminary immunity agreement regarding the charges, and Jasik was
released from custody; she then returned to Texas with her mother. In February 1990, at the first preliminary hearing in John and Chris
Badgett's murder trial, the juvenile charges against Jasik were
dismissed. Counsel agreed that Jasik would testify under grant of
transactional immunity, with the exception of murder and perjury, and
that she would have use immunity with respect to her statements.
Following Jasik's return to Texas, Rich informed the prosecution that
Jasik had additional evidence to disclose. The additional evidence
included a pre-offense statement by petitioner that he did not know if he
could trust Palmer and that he was not sure whether he should "off him or
not." Jasik also informed Rich that she had petitioner's jacket, and that
she believed it had blood stains on it. After additional discussions
between Rich and the prosecution, the prosecution sent a letter to Rich
confirming Jasik's immunity with regard to the statements and the
evidence. Tests of the jacket did not disclose any blood.
On February 15, 1990, John and Chris Badgett's attorneys interviewed
Jasik with her attorney present. The interview was taped, and copies were
later made available to the prosecution. Following the interview, the
prosecution contacted Jasik and interviewed her outside of the presence
of her attorney. Rich later informed the prosecution that he did not
believe it was either permissible or appropriate to contact Jasik outside
of his presence. He also informed the trial judge of the incident. On
February 21, 1990, Jasik's attorney agreed to an interview of his client
by the prosecution. The prosecutor ended the interview when Jasik's
attorney insisted on taping the interview. Jasik returned to California
in June 1990 to testify at the second preliminary hearing, and again in
September 1990, to testify at an in limine hearing.
At John and Chris Badgett's trial, Jasik was the primary prosecution
witness, and she testified under a grant of immunity.*fn5 She testified
that on the night of the murder, she and Chris had stepped out on the
balcony of the condominium. They discussed the subject of Palmer wanting
to return to Texas because he had previously mentioned that he missed his
wife. Chris told Jasik that he was not sure if he could trust Palmer and
did not know whether he "should off him or not" or "if his brother would
go along with it." Jasik ignored the statements, believing that Chris was
"just in one of his moods," and the two returned to the living room.
According to Jasik, about half an hour later, she, John, Theresa
Badgett and Joe Albano, went out on the balcony together. John said that
since Palmer had talked so much about returning to Texas, they were going to purchase a bus ticket for him. At John's request,
Theresa gave John her ATM card so he could borrow money for the ticket.
Chris and John said they were going to a party, and Palmer agreed to join
them. While Jasik wanted to accompany them, Chris insisted that she tell
Palmer that she could not go because she had to work and was tired.
Chris, John, and Palmer left the condominium around 11 p.m., and Chris
and John returned around 4 a.m. the following day. When they returned,
Chris told Jasik that Palmer was on a bus back to Texas and would call in
When the local news aired the discovery of Palmer's body parts, Chris
Badgett told Jasik that he was in trouble. Petitioner, John Badgett, and
Jasik then moved from the condominium into a motel. While staying at the
motel, petitioner told Jasik that he and John had driven Palmer up into
the mountains and then stopped to smoke cigarettes. When Palmer bent over
to pick up a lighter that he had dropped, Chris shot him once in the
head. John caught Palmer and the two rolled down the hillside until
coming to a stop at the base of a tree. While Chris held a flashlight,
John dismembered Palmer and put his body parts in a plastic garbage bag.
They took the bag down the road and threw the parts into the ocean. Some
time later, Jasik and John drove to San Francisco. and threw the gun used
in the murder off of the Golden Gate Bridge.
When initially questioned about the murder, Jasik told the police that
Palmer had returned to Texas and had called to report his safe arrival
there. She later told the police about the conversation in which Chris
admitted to her that he had killed Palmer and about their efforts to
conceal the crime, but did not tell the officers about her conversation
with Chris before the killing in which he said he did not know whether he
should "off Palmer. She later revealed these statements.
At trial, Chris Badgett made an in limine motion to exclude
evidence of his statements to Jasik on the ground of marital privilege,
claiming a common law marriage with her under Texas law. After an
evidentiary hearing, the court ruled that there was no common law
marriage between Jasik and Chris under Texas law and denied the motion.
The defense also made an in limine motion to exclude Jasik's
trial testimony, claiming that the admission of such evidence would
violate co-defendants' right to due process for several reasons. First,
they alleged that Jasik was unlawfully incarcerated in Santa Cruz County
for having a false identification because the charges arose from conduct
in Santa Clara County. See Cal. Penal Code § 830.1; Cal.
Welf. & Inst. Code § 626. Second, they contended that Jasik's
initial cooperation with the prosecution was coerced because police officers told Jasik
she would be released from custody if she cooperated with them. Third,
they alleged that the prosecution had interfered with Rich's
representation of Jasik. Finally, defendants argued that the immunity
agreement was itself coercive because it required Jasik to testify
consistently with her previous statements to the police.
The trial court denied this second motion in limine on the
ground that defendants lacked standing to bring the claims, but the court
held that defendants were free to develop evidence before the jury of the
prosecution's alleged coercion of Jasik. At the conclusion of the
evidentiary portion of the trial, defendants moved to dismiss or, in the
alternative, to strike Jasik's testimony on the ground that her immunity
agreement with the prosecution was coercive. The trial court denied the
motion but advised defendants that they were free to argue to the jury
that her testimony should be discounted because of the agreement.
The jury convicted both defendants of murder and conspiracy to commit
murder. Both were sentenced to terms of twenty-five years to life
imprisonment. Both filed appeals with the California Court of Appeal. On
May 12, 1994, the California Court of Appeal reversed the murder and
conspiracy convictions on the ground that the trial court erred in
denying defendants standing to challenge the admission of Jasik's
allegedly coerced testimony. On June 8, 1995, the California Supreme
Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeal, holding that although
defendants had standing to challenge the admission of the coerced trial
testimony of Jasik, they had failed to demonstrate that the admission of
Jasik's testimony violated their right to due process. People v.
Lance Christopher Badgett, 10 Cal.4th 330, 338 (Cal. 1995). The
court also concluded that the trial court had correctly determined that
Chris Badgett could not assert the marital privilege for confidential
marital communications between himself and Jasik because he had not
entered into a valid common law marriage with Jasik in Texas.
Id. On remand, the Court of Appeal upheld the convictions.
On September 11, 1997, Lance Christopher Badgett filed a petition for a
writ of habeas corpus in this court. On July 13, 1998, he amended his
petition, and on May 3, 2000, he filed a memorandum in support of his
petition. Over the course of the next year, petitioner filed four motions
as well. On September 26, 2001, the court denied all four motions. On
October 15, 2003, the case was transferred from the San Jose ...