230 F.3d 679 (4th Cir. 2000), 00-2, Sanders v. Easley

Docket Nº:00-2.
Citation:230 F.3d 679
Party Name:STANLEY SANDERS, Petitioner-Appellant, v. MICHAEL F. EASLEY, Attorney General of the State of North Carolina; R. C. LEE, Warden, Central Prison, Raleigh, North Carolina, Respondents-Appellees.
Case Date:October 31, 2000
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

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230 F.3d 679 (4th Cir. 2000)

STANLEY SANDERS, Petitioner-Appellant,


MICHAEL F. EASLEY, Attorney General of the State of North Carolina; R. C. LEE, Warden, Central Prison, Raleigh, North Carolina, Respondents-Appellees.

No. 00-2.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

October 31, 2000

Argued: September 26, 2000.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, at Asheville.

Richard L. Voorhees, District Judge. (CA-98-184-1-V)

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COUNSEL ARGUED: James Richard Glover, GLOVER & PETERSEN, P.A., Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for Appellant. Ellen Bradshaw Scouten, Special Deputy Attorney General, NORTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellees. ON BRIEF: Anthony Lynch, LYNCH & TAYLOR, Marion, North Carolina, for Appellant. Michael F. Easley, Attorney General of North Carolina, NORTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellees.

Before WILKINS and LUTTIG, Circuit Judges, and HAMILTON, Senior Circuit Judge.

Dismissed by published opinion. Judge Wilkins wrote the opinion, in which Judge Luttig and Senior Judge Hamilton joined.


WILKINS, Circuit Judge:

Stanley Sanders seeks to appeal an order of the district court denying his petition for a writ of habeas corpus.1 See 28 U.S.C.A. § 2254 (West 1994 & Supp. 2000). Sanders wishes to avoid a fourth capital sentencing proceeding, asserting that such a hearing is barred by the Double Jeopardy Clause. Because Sanders has failed to make a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right, see 28 U.S.C.A. § 2253(c)(2) (West Supp. 2000), we deny a certificate of appealability and dismiss the appeal.


In 1982, Sanders was convicted of the rape and murder of Jacqueline Lee and was sentenced to death. His convictions and sentence were vacated on appeal, however, because of problems with the trial transcript. See State v. Sanders (Sanders I), 321 S.E.2d 836, 837 (N.C. 1984) (per curiam). Sanders was again convicted and sentenced to death in 1985. The North Carolina Supreme Court affirmed his convictions on appeal, but vacated the death sentence on the basis that the penalty-phase jury instructions violated McCoy v. North Carolina, 494 U.S. 433 (1990). See State v. Sanders (Sanders II), 395 S.E.2d 412, 429 (N.C. 1990).

Sanders' third capital sentencing hearing began on September 11, 1995 and ended in a mistrial on October 5. Before the jury retired to consider its verdict, it was instructed that it would be required to consider four issues: (1) whether the State had proven one or more aggravating circumstances; (2) whether Sanders had established the existence of any mitigating circumstances; (3) whether the aggravating circumstance or circumstances found by the jury outweighed any mitigating circumstances found by any of the jurors; and (4) whether the aggravating circumstance or circumstances were of sufficient weight to justify imposition of the death penalty. The jury began deliberating at 10:45 a.m. on October 4, and broke for

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lunch from 12:25 to 2:10. At 4:00, the jury submitted the following question to the trial court:

How do we as a jury, when one or more of us have ques tions regarding facts of the case (feel we have not been given enough information) deal with finding the facts or coming to an undecisive [sic] conclusion.

J.A. 183. The trial court learned from the foreman that the problem related to issue three, and accordingly reinstructed the jury on issues three and four. The jury resumed deliberations at 4:20.

At 5:05, the trial judge brought the jury to the courtroom to excuse them for the day. In taking custody of the verdict sheet and the jurors' notes, the court noted that there was a folded piece of paper on the top of the materials. The foreman indicated that the paper contained another question for the court but that the jury was not finished formulating it. The next morning the trial court, having read the uncompleted question, asked the foreman "how long . . . have you been deliberating on the issue that you're currently deliberating on?" J.A. 150. The foreman stated that the jury had been working on the current issue since the previous afternoon and that it had taken three votes, the last of which differed from the first two. The court then directed the jury to resume deliberations, which it did at 9:49. At 10:20, the jury submitted the following note:

We have a vote of 11-1

Hung Jury on the final Issue

J.A. 184. In response to questioning from the court, the foreman indicated that the jury had begun deliberating on issue four that morning.2 The trial court sent the jury back to the jury room with instructions to continue to deliberate. At 10:55, the jury submitted the following note to the court:

We can not [sic] come to a unanimously [sic] decision on Issue Four.

We had a [sic] error at one point and went ahead & signed it but we re-read Recommendation as to punishment.

We need to know if life means life in prison.

We got one juror who done investigation on her own and talked to a judge and Police officers.

J.A. 185. The foreman informed the court that the"one juror" was juror #6, Renita Lytle, and that she had told the jury that she had talked to a judge and police officers who told her that Sanders would serve at least 20 years if sentenced to life imprisonment. Based on this information, the trial court stated that "I don't think I've got any choice at this stage but to declare a mistrial because of juror misconduct, and I think I've got probable cause to do that." J.A. 160. Defense counsel urged the court not to declare a mistrial. The State also indicated its reluctance to have a mistrial, and suggested questioning Lytle in hopes of avoiding one. Lytle offered the following explanation:

JUROR LYTLE: . . . Your honor, I lied about telling the jury that I talked to anyone about the situation for being the only one in there and having all the people, the jurys [sic], hollering at me, fussing at me, hoping that things--bad things to me. When I went home yesterday, I cried all the way home cause I . . . get along with everybody and I hate for anybody to be mad at me. And when I got home yester day, I was trying to figure out a way . . . of getting them people to let me have my own opinion, which they didn't. I mean they would not let me be satisfied with my opinion about things. They would not listen to me. Everybody was like against me and . . . I could not take the pressure of them hollering at me so I went home. I did call my nephew but I did not say

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anything about the case. I just asked him about what kind of...

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