from the United States District Court for the District of
Colorado (D.C. No. 1:15-CV-01425-RPM)
K. Johnson, Johnson & Klein, PLLC, Boulder, Colorado, for
the Petitioner - Appellant.
A. Crane, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado
(Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General, with him on the
briefs), for Respondents - Appellees.
Temple Barnes, Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie, LLP, Denver,
Colorado (Kenneth F. Rossman, IV, Lewis Roca Rothgerber
Christie, LLP, Denver, Colorado, with her on the briefs), for
BACHARACH, BALDOCK, and EBEL, Circuit Judges
BACHARACH, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Charles Farrar, a Colorado state prisoner, appeals the
district court's denial of his petition for habeas
relief. In district court, Mr. Farrar claimed
• actual innocence,
• deprivation of due process based on the recantation of
a key prosecution witness and
• deprivation of due process based on a state appellate
decision establishing an overly restrictive standard for a
district court denied relief, and we affirm based on three
1. Actual innocence does not supply a freestanding basis for
2. A private citizen's false testimony does not violate
the Constitution unless the government knows that the
testimony is false.
3. The alleged error in the Colorado Supreme Court's
decision does not justify habeas relief.
Mr. Farrar is convicted and seeks post-conviction
Farrar's convictions stemmed from complaints of sexual
abuse. The victim was Mr. Farrar's stepdaughter, who
complained of the alleged abuse when she was in the eighth
grade. Based on the girl's account, state officials
charged Mr. Farrar with over twenty counts. Mr. Farrar denied
the allegations. At the trial, the girl's testimony
supplied the prosecution's only direct evidence of Mr.
Farrar's guilt. The jury found Mr. Farrar guilty of
numerous counts of sexual assault and one count of child
abuse, and the state trial court sentenced Mr. Farrar to
prison for a minimum of 145 years and a maximum of life.
Farrar appealed. While the appeal was pending, the girl
recanted her trial testimony. Given the recantation, the
Colorado Court of Appeals granted a limited remand to the
trial court so that Mr. Farrar could move for a new trial.
After Mr. Farrar filed that motion, the trial court conducted
evidentiary hearings, where the girl testified that she had
fabricated her allegations of sexual abuse. Nonetheless, the
trial court denied the motion on the ground that the
recantation was not credible. Mr. Farrar appealed again, and
the Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of the
motion for a new trial.
certiorari, the Colorado Supreme Court affirmed. Farrar
v. People, 208 P.3d 702, 709-10 (Colo. 2009).
The court deferred to the trial court's credibility
determinations and clarified Colorado's standard for a
Rather than merely creating reasonable doubt by demonstrating
that the recanting witness has given different and
irreconcilable testimony on different occasions, recantation
can justify a new trial only if it contains sufficiently
significant new evidence, and if it, rather than the