Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Kuenzel: Insufficient proof of "actual innocence"

In Kuenzel v. Commissioner, Ala. Dep’t of Corrections, No. 10-10283 (Aug. 17, 2012), the Court held that the habeas petitioner, sentenced to death for a 1987 murder, failed to present sufficient evidence of "actual innocence" and therefore could not overcome the state procedural bar to his federal habeas claims.
The Court noted that evidence of actual innocence need not establish "conclusive exoneration," but it must do more than strengthen a defense if offered at trial: it must show that it is more likely than not that no reasonable juror would have convicted in light of the new evidence. The Court, after reviewing Kuenzel’s new evidence, concluded that he had not met this "heavy burden."