539 U.S. 607 (2003), 01-1757, Stogner v. California

Docket Nº:No. 01-1757.
Citation:539 U.S. 607, 123 S.Ct. 2446, 156 L.Ed.2d 544, 71 U.S.L.W. 4588
Party Name:Marion Reynolds STOGNER, Petitioner, v. CALIFORNIA.
Case Date:June 26, 2003
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 607

539 U.S. 607 (2003)

123 S.Ct. 2446, 156 L.Ed.2d 544, 71 U.S.L.W. 4588

Marion Reynolds STOGNER, Petitioner,

v.

CALIFORNIA.

No. 01-1757.

United States Supreme Court.

June 26, 2003

Argued March 31, 2003.

[123 S.Ct. 2447] Syllabus[*]

SYLLABUS

In 1993, California enacted a new criminal statute of limitations permitting prosecution for sex-related child abuse where the prior limitations period has expired if, inter alia, the prosecution is begun within one year of a victim's report to police. A subsequently added provision makes clear that this law revives causes of action barred by prior limitations statutes. In 1998, petitioner Stogner was indicted for sex-related child abuse committed between 1955 and 1973. At the time those crimes were allegedly committed, the limitations period was three years. Stogner moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the Ex Post Facto Clause forbids revival of a previously time-barred prosecution. The trial court agreed, but the California Court of Appeal reversed. The trial court denied Stogner's subsequent dismissal motion, in which he argued that his prosecution violated the Ex Post Facto and Due Process Clauses. The Court of Appeal affirmed.

Held: A law enacted after expiration of a previously applicable limitations period violates the Ex Post Facto Clause when it is applied to revive a previously time-barred prosecution. California's law extends the time in which prosecution is allowed, authorizes prosecutions that the passage of time has previously barred, and was enacted after prior limitations periods for Stogner's alleged offenses had expired. Such features produce the kind of retroactivity that the Constitution forbids. First, the law threatens the kinds of harm that the Clause seeks to avoid, for the Clause protects liberty by preventing governments from enacting statutes with "manifestly unjust and oppressive" retroactive effects. Calder v. Bull, 3 Dall. 386, 391, 1 L.Ed. 648. Second, the law falls literally within the categorical descriptions of ex post facto laws that Justice Chase set forth more than 200 years ago in Calder v. Bull, [123 S.Ct. 2448] which this Court has recognized as an authoritative account of the Clause's scope, Collins v. Youngblood, 497 U.S. 37, 46, 110 S.Ct. 2715, 111 L.Ed.2d 30. It falls within the second category, which Justice Chase understood to include a new law that inflicts punishments where the party was not, by law, liable to any punishment. Third, numerous legislators, courts, and commentators have long believed it well settled that the Clause forbids resurrection of a time-barred prosecution. The Reconstruction Congress of 1867 rejected a bill that would have revived time-barred treason prosecutions against Jefferson Davis

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and others, passing instead a law extending unexpired limitations periods. Roughly contemporaneous State Supreme Courts echoed the view that laws reviving time-barred prosecutions are ex post facto. Even courts that have upheld extensions ofunexpired statutes of limitations have consistently distinguished situations where the periods have expired, often using language that suggests a presumption that reviving time-barred criminal cases is not allowed. This Court has not previously spoken decisively on this matter. Neither its recognition that the Fifth Amendment's privilege against self-incrimination does not apply after the relevant limitations period has expired, Brown v. Walker, 161 U.S. 591, 597-598, 16 S.Ct. 644, 40 L.Ed. 819, nor its holding that a Civil War statute retroactively tolling limitations periods during the war was valid as an exercise of Congress' war powers, Stewart v. Kahn, 11 Wall. 493, 503-504, 20 L.Ed. 176, dictates the outcome here. Instead, that outcome is determined by the nature of the harms that the law creates, the fact that the law falls within Justice Chase's second category, and a long line of authority. Pp. 2449-2461.

93 Cal.App.4th 1229, 114 Cal.Rptr.2d 37, reversed.

BREYER, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which STEVENS, O'CONNOR, SOUTER, and GINSBURG, JJ., joined. KENNEDY, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and SCALIA and THOMAS, JJ., joined, post, p. 2461.

COUNSEL

Roberto Najera, Martinez, CA, for petitioner.

Janet Gaard, Sacramento, CA, for respondent.

Irving L. Gornstein, Washington, DC, for United States as amicus curiae, by special leave of the Court, supporting the respondent.

Alternate Defender Office Contra Costa County William W. Veale, Chief Assistant Defender, Roberto Najera, Counsel of Record, Deputy Alternate Defender Elisa Stewart, Office of the Alternate Defender, Martinez, California, for the Petitioner.

Bill Lockyer, Attorney General, Manuel M. Medeiros, Solicitor General, Robert R. Anderson, Chief Assistant Attorney General, W. Scott Thorpe, Special Assistant Attorney General, Kelly E. Lebel, Deputy Attorney General, Janet Gaard, Special Assistant Attorney General, Counsel of Record, Sacramento, CA, for respondent.

For U.S. Supreme Court briefs, see:

2003 WL 193595 (Pet.Brief)

2003 WL 469004 (Resp.Brief)

2003 WL 1610794 (Reply.Brief)

OPINION

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Justice BREYER delivered the opinion of the Court.

California has brought a criminal prosecution after expiration of the time periods set forth in previously applicable statutes of limitations. California has done so under the authority of a new law that (1) permits resurrection of otherwise time-barred criminal prosecutions, and (2) was itself enacted after pre-existing limitations periods had expired. We conclude that the Constitution's Ex Post Facto Clause, Art. I, § 10, cl. 1, bars application of this new law to the present case.

[123 S.Ct. 2449] I

In 1993, California enacted a new criminal statute of limitations governing sex-related child abuse crimes. The new statute permits prosecution for those crimes where "[t]he limitation period specified in [prior statutes of limitations] has expired"--provided that (1) a victim has reported an allegation of abuse to the police, (2) "there is independent evidence that clearly and convincingly corroborates the victim's allegation," and (3) the prosecution is begun within one year of the victim's report. 1993 Cal. Stats. ch. 390, § 1 (codified as amended at Cal.Penal Code Ann. § 803(g) (West Supp.2003)). A related provision, added to the statute in 1996, makes clear that a prosecution satisfying these three conditions "shall revive any cause of action barred by [prior statutes of limitations]." 1996 Cal. Stats. ch. 130, § 1 (codified at Cal.Penal Code Ann. § 803(g)(3)(A) (West Supp.2003)). The statute thus authorizes prosecution for criminal acts committed many years beforehand--and where the original limitations period has expired--as long as prosecution begins within a year of a victim's first complaint to the police.

In 1998, a California grand jury indicted Marion Stogner, the petitioner, charging him with sex-related child abuse committed decades earlier--between 1955 and 1973. Without

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the new statute allowing revival of the State's cause of action, California could not have prosecuted Stogner. The statute of limitations governing prosecutions at the time the crimes were allegedly committed had set forth a 3-year limitations period. And that period had run 22 years or more before the present prosecution was brought.

Stogner moved for the complaint's dismissal. He argued that the Federal Constitution's Ex Post Facto Clause, Art. I, § 10, cl. 1, forbids revival of a previously time-barred prosecution. The trial court agreed that such a revival is unconstitutional. But the California Court of Appeal reversed, citing a recent, contrary decision by the California Supreme Court, People v. Frazer, 21 Cal.4th 737, 88 Cal.Rptr.2d 312, 982 P.2d 180 (1999), cert. denied, 529 U.S. 1108, 120 S.Ct. 1960, 146 L.Ed.2d 792 (2000). Stogner then moved to dismiss his indictment, arguing that his prosecution is unconstitutional under both the Ex Post Facto Clause and the Due Process Clause, Amdt. 14, § 1. The trial court denied Stogner's motion, and the Court of Appeal upheld that denial. Stogner v. Superior Court, 93 Cal.App.4th 1229, 114 Cal.Rptr.2d 37 (2001). We granted certiorari to consider Stogner's constitutional claims. 537 U.S. 1043, 123 S.Ct. 658, 154 L.Ed.2d 514 (2002).

II

The Constitution's two Ex Post Facto Clauses prohibit the Federal Government and the States from enacting laws with certain retroactive effects. See Art. I, § 9, cl. 3 (Federal Government); Art. I, § 10, cl. 1 (States). The law at issue here created a new criminal limitations period that extends the time in which prosecution is allowed. It authorized criminal prosecutions that the passage of time had previously barred. Moreover, it was enacted after prior limitations periods for Stogner's alleged offenses had expired. Do these features of the law, taken together, produce the kind of retroactivity that the Constitution forbids? We conclude that they do.

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First, the new statute threatens the kinds of harm that, in this Court's view, the Ex Post Facto Clause seeks to avoid. Long ago Justice Chase pointed out that the Clause protects liberty by preventing governments from enacting statutes with "manifestly unjust and oppressive" retroactive effects. Calder v. Bull, 3 Dall. 386, 391, 1 L.Ed. 648 (1798). Judge Learned Hand later wrote that extending a limitations period after the State has assured "a man that he has become safe from its pursuit ... seems to most of us unfair and dishonest." Falter v. United States, 23 F.2d 420, 426 (C.A.2), [123 S.Ct. 2450] cert. denied, 277 U.S. 590, 48 S.Ct. 528, 72 L.Ed. 1003 (1928)...

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