mental condition and her intent to divorce petitioner; (2) the state knowingly concealed exculpatory evidence from petitioner; (3) the state denied petitioner equal protection by charging him through an indictment instead of through an information which would have afforded him a preliminary probable cause hearing; (4) the state did not prove petitioner to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Respondent has moved for summary judgment. Because there is no genuine issue of material fact and because respondent is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the motion for summary judgment is granted. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).
1. Right of Confrontation Claim
The record indicates that the main evidence at trial linking petitioner to the murder of Regli was the testimony of petitioner's wife, Anna Kline ("Anna"), who testified that petitioner admitted to her that he was present when a co-defendant murdered Regli. The defense attacked Anna's testimony in both its cross-examination of her and its case-in-chief, establishing that, inter alia : Anna sold and used narcotics; she sought revenge against defendant for leaving her for another woman; she made a number of prior inconsistent statements; she engaged in adulterous relationships; and when Kline's mother refused to give Anna's share of the family-owned business to Anna she threatened that she would see Kline "rot in jail." The court would not however allow the defense to cross-examine Anna on her mental condition.
Petitioner claims that this was prejudicial error because at the post-conviction hearing Anna admitted that she had suffered a nervous breakdown in the months before trial. Thus had the court allowed petitioner to cross-examine Anna on this point, petitioner argues that the defense would have uncovered the fact of Anna's nervous breakdown to further impeach her. Instead, the defense was precluded from demonstrating Anna's lack of competency to testify.
In determining whether to grant petitioner relief the court will not invalidate petitioner's state conviction on an alleged evidentiary error unless the error so tainted the trial that it was fundamentally unfair. Cramer v. Fahner, 683 F.2d 1376, 1385 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 459 U.S. 1016, 74 L. Ed. 2d 509, 103 S. Ct. 376 (1982). "Unless the claimed error amounted to a fundamental defect so great that it inherently resulted in a complete miscarriage of justice, the conviction should stand. State evidentiary rulings should rarely be the cause of habeas review." Id. (citations omitted)
Petitioner has not convinced the court that the trial court's ruling constituted so egregious an error. The modern decisional trend is to not allow cross-examination into a witness's psychiatric background where such cross-examination is sought as a means of attacking the witness's credibility. U.S. v. Lopez, 611 F.2d 44, 45 (4th Cir. 1979).
"The rationale for such a restriction, as applied in the psychiatric area, is that many psychiatric problems or fixations which a witness may have had are without any relevancy to the witness' credibility, concerned as it is with whether the witness' mental impairment is related to 'his capacity to observe the event at the time of its occurrence, to communicate his observations accurately and truthfully at trial, or to maintain a clear recollection in the meantime.'"