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United States Courts for the Ninth Circuit
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Court of Appeals Mourns Loss of Senior Circuit Judge Melvin T. Brunetti
SAN FRANCISCO - Senior Circuit Judge Melvin T. Brunetti of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit died Friday, October 30, at his home in Reno after a long battle with cancer. He was 75.
Judge Brunetti was in his 25th year of service on the Court of Appeals. Nominated by President Reagan and confirmed by the Senate in 1985, he served as an active judge until 1999, when he took senior status. He continued to carry a substantial caseload for many years and was active in court governance, including chairing the Space and Security Committee during a time when many new courthouses were constructed in the circuit.
Judge Brunetti's contributions to the law are many. His noteworthy opinions include:
- Osborne v. District Attorney's Office for the Third Judicial District, 423 F.3d 1050 (9th Cir. 2005), after remand, 521 F.3d 1118 (9th Cir. 2008), reversed, 129 S. Ct. 2308 (2009). Judge Brunetti held that an Alaska inmate's section 1983 action for post-conviction access to DNA evidence was not barred by Heck v. Humphrey and, after remand, that due process conferred a right of access to the evidence. The Supreme Court later reversed 5-4 on the due process issue;
- Harris v. Vasquez, 949 F.2d 1497 (9th Cir. 1990). Judge Brunetti upheld the murder conviction and death sentence of Robert Alton Harris on habeas review; and
- Adamson v. Ricketts, 789 F.2d 722, 735 (9th Cir. 1986) (en banc) (dissenting), reversed, 483 U.S. 1 (1987). Dissenting from the en banc majority, Judge Brunetti wrote that double jeopardy did not bar the defendant's prosecution for first degree murder in connection with a bombing in Phoenix, Arizona. He was later vindicated by a Supreme Court reversal.
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