NEWS (3/27/20): California — A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (pictured) has affirmed a California federal district court’s denial of habeas corpus relief for death-row prisoner Rodney Berryman, Sr.

The court ruled that jurists of reason could disagree with the district court’s rejection of Berryman’s claim that his trial lawyer was ineffective for failing to investigate and present mental health evidence that the killing was not premeditated or intentional. Ultimately, however, the court denied that claim. It also denied relief on Berryman’s claim that his counsel had been ineffective in the penalty phase of trial for failing to present mitigating evidence about Berryman’s background, upbringing, and brain damage. The appeals court deferred to the California courts’ ruling that the failure to present this evidence was not prejudicial, saying that the state court determination had not been unreasonable.