475 U.S. 237 (1986), 84-1636, Morris v. Mathews

Docket Nº:No. 84-1636
Citation:475 U.S. 237, 106 S.Ct. 1032, 89 L.Ed.2d 187, 54 U.S.L.W. 4215
Party Name:Morris v. Mathews
Case Date:February 26, 1986
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 237

475 U.S. 237 (1986)

106 S.Ct. 1032, 89 L.Ed.2d 187, 54 U.S.L.W. 4215

Morris

v.

Mathews

No. 84-1636

United States Supreme Court

Feb. 26, 1986

Argued November 4, 1985

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR

THE SIXTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

Respondent and another man (Daugherty) robbed a bank in Ohio. After an automobile chase, the police surrounded the two men when they stopped at a farmhouse. Thereafter, the police heard shots fired inside the house, and respondent emerged from the house and surrendered. The police then entered the house and found Daugherty dead. Based on the Coroner's opinion that Daugherty had committed suicide, the State did not charge respondent with Daugherty's death, but with aggravated robbery. Respondent pleaded guilty, but two days later admitted having shot Daugherty. Respondent was then indicted for aggravated murder based on the bank robbery. The state trial court denied his pretrial motion to dismiss the indictment as violative of the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment, and he was found guilty after a jury trial. Ultimately, the Ohio Court of Appeals, finding that the Double Jeopardy Clause barred respondent's conviction for aggravated murder, modified that conviction to that of the lesser included offense of murder. After the Ohio Supreme Court denied respondent's motion to appeal, he sought a writ of habeas corpus in Federal District Court, which denied the petition. The Federal Court of Appeals reversed. Apparently agreeing with respondent's assertion that evidence was admitted at his trial for aggravated murder that would have been inadmissible in a trial for murder, and stating that the jury "may have been prejudiced" by that evidence, the court held that respondent had established a "reasonable possibility" that he was prejudiced by the double jeopardy violation sufficient to warrant a new trial on the murder charge.

Held: Reducing respondent's concededly jeopardy-barred conviction for aggravated murder to a conviction for murder that concededly was not jeopardy-barred was an adequate remedy for the double jeopardy violation. Pp. 244-248.

(a) When a jeopardy-barred conviction is reduced to a conviction for a lesser included offense that is not jeopardy-barred, the burden shifts to the defendant to demonstrate a reasonable probability (i.e., a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome) that he would not have been convicted of the nonjeopardy-barred offense absent the presence of the jeopardy-barred offense. Where it is clear that the jury necessarily

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found that the defendant's conduct satisfies the elements of the lesser included offense, it would be incongruous to order another trial as a means of curing the double jeopardy violation. Pp. 244-247.

(b) Here, the Federal Court of Appeals' legal and factual basis for ordering the writ of habeas corpus was seriously flawed. Its "reasonable possibility" standard was not sufficiently demanding, it did not expressly say that it agreed with respondent that certain evidence admitted at his trial would not have been admitted in a separate trial for murder, nor did it refer to any Ohio authorities, and its observation that the admission of such evidence "may have prejudiced the jury" falls far short of a considered conclusion that, if the evidence at issue was not before the jury in a separate trial for murder, there was a reasonable probability that respondent would not have been convicted. Pp. 247-248.

754 F.2d 158, reversed and remanded.

WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and REHNQUIST, STEVENS, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. BLACKMUN, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which POWELL, J., joined, post, p. 248. BRENNAN, J., post, p. 257, and MARSHAL, J., post, p. 258, filed dissenting opinions.

WHITE, J., lead opinion

[106 S.Ct. 1034] JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.

The question presented in this case is whether a state appellate court provided an adequate remedy for a violation of the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment by modifying a jeopardy-barred conviction to that of a lesser included offense that is not jeopardy-barred.

I

On February 17, 1978, respondent James Michael Mathews and Steven Daugherty robbed the Alexandria Bank in Alexandria, Ohio. After an automobile chase, the police finally surrounded the two men when they stopped at a farmhouse. Soon thereafter, the police heard shots fired inside the house,

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and respondent then emerged from the home and surrendered to police. When the officers entered the house, they found Daugherty dead, shot once in the head and once in the chest. The police also found the money stolen from the bank hidden in the pantry.

Once in custody, respondent gave a series of statements to law enforcement officials. In his first statement, given one hour after his surrender, respondent claimed that Daugherty and another man had forced him to aid in the bank robbery by threatening to kill both respondent and his girlfriend. Respondent denied shooting Daugherty. In the second statement, given the same day, respondent again denied shooting Daugherty, but admitted that no other man was involved with the robbery, and that he and Daugherty alone had planned and performed the crime.

Two days later, respondent gave a third statement to police in which he again confessed to robbing the bank. Respondent also related that, after he and Daugherty arrived at the farmhouse, he had run back out to their van to retrieve the stolen money, and on his way back inside, he "heard a muffled shot from inside the house." App. 4. Upon investigation, respondent discovered that Daugherty had shot himself in the head. Respondent claimed that Daugherty was still conscious, and called to him by name. Ibid.

The County Coroner initially ruled Daugherty's death to be a suicide. The Coroner made this determination, however, before receiving the results of an autopsy performed by a forensic pathologist. This report indicated that Daugherty had received two wounds from the same shotgun. The initial shot had been fired while Daugherty was standing, and entered the left side of his face. This shot fractured Daugherty's skull, and the mere force of the blast would have rendered him immediately unconscious. This wound was not fatal. The second shot was fired while Daugherty was lying on his back, and was fired directly into his heart from extremely close range. This shot was instantaneously fatal.

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As a result of this evidence, the Coroner issued a supplemental death certificate, listing "multiple gunshot wounds" as the cause of death. Record 295.

Based on the Coroner's first opinion that Daugherty took his own life, the State did not charge respondent with Daugherty's death. Instead, he was indicted under Ohio Rev.Code Ann. § 2911.01 (Supp.1984) on aggravated robbery charges.1 Respondent pleaded guilty on May 17, and was sentenced [106 S.Ct. 1035] to a term of incarceration of from 7 to 25 years.

Two days after entering his guilty plea, respondent made the first of two statements in which he admitted having shot Daugherty. Respondent maintained that Daugherty initially had shot himself in the head, and that he was still alive when respondent discovered him after returning to the farmhouse with the stolen money. Acting on the theory that, if Daugherty were dead, respondent could claim that he was kidnaped and had not voluntarily robbed the bank, respondent "put [the gun] an inch or two from [Daugherty's] chest and pulled the trigger." App. 6.2 Respondent's second

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statement, given one week later, reiterated these same points. Id. at 8-16.

On June 1, 1978, the State charged respondent with the aggravated murder of Steven Daugherty. Ohio Rev.Code § 2903.01 (1982) defines aggravated murder, in part, as "purposely caus[ing] the death of another . . . while fleeing immediately after committing . . . aggravated robbery."3 The aggravated robbery referred to in the indictment was the armed robbery of the Alexandria Bank to which respondent had previously pleaded guilty. The state trial court denied respondent's pretrial motion to dismiss the aggravated murder indictment as violative of the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

At the conclusion of the evidence, the trial judge instructed the jury as to the elements of the offense of aggravated murder.

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The judge also instructed the jury on the lesser included offense of murder as follows:

If you find that the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt all of the essential elements of aggravated murder, your verdict must be guilty of that crime, and in that event you will not consider any lesser offense.

But if you find that the State failed to prove the killing was done while the defendant was committing or fleeing immediately after committing aggravated robbery, but that the killing was nonetheless purposely done, you will proceed with your deliberations and decide whether the State has proved beyond a reasonable doubt the elements of the lesser crime or murder.

The crime of murder is distinguished from aggravated murder by the State's failure to prove that the killing was done while the defendant was committing or fleeing immediately after committing the crime of aggravated robbery.

App. 21. The jury found respondent guilty of aggravated murder, and the court sentenced him to a term of life imprisonment.

Respondent appealed his conviction, claiming that his trial for aggravated murder following his conviction for aggravated robbery violated the Double Jeopardy Clause. The Ohio Court of Appeals, Fifth Judicial District, affirmed his conviction, State v. Mathews, CA No. 2578 (Licking...

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