542 U.S. 348 (2004), 03-526, Schriro v. Summerlin

Docket Nº:No. 03-526
Citation:542 U.S. 348, 124 S.Ct. 2519, 159 L.Ed.2d 442, 72 U.S.L.W. 4561
Party Name:DORA B. SCHRIRO, DIRECTOR, ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, PETITIONER v. WARREN WESLEY SUMMERLIN
Case Date:June 24, 2004
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 348

542 U.S. 348 (2004)

124 S.Ct. 2519, 159 L.Ed.2d 442, 72 U.S.L.W. 4561

DORA B. SCHRIRO, DIRECTOR, ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, PETITIONER

v.

WARREN WESLEY SUMMERLIN.

No. 03-526

United States Supreme Court

June 24, 2004

Argued April 19, 2004

ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT

[124 S.Ct. 2520] Syllabus [*] SYLLABUS

Respondent was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death under Arizona's capital sentencing scheme then in effect, which authorized the trial judge, rather than the jury, to determine the presence of aggravating circumstances that make the defendant eligible for the death sentence. The State Supreme Court affirmed on direct review. While respondent's subsequent federal habeas case was pending in the Ninth Circuit, this Court decided that Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 490, 120 S.Ct. 2348, 147 L.Ed.2d 435, required the existence of an aggravating factor to be proved to a jury rather than a judge under Arizona's scheme. Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584, 603-609, 122 S.Ct. 2428, 153 L.Ed.2d 556. The Ninth Circuit invalidated respondent's death sentence, rejecting the argument that Ring did not apply because respondent's conviction and sentence had become final on direct review before Ring was decided.

Held: Ring does not apply retroactively to cases already final on direct review. Pp. 2522-2526.

(a) A "new rule" resulting from a decision of this Court applies to convictions that are already final only in limited circumstances. New substantive rules generally apply retroactively, but new procedural rules generally do not--only " 'watershed rules of criminal procedure' implicating the fundamental fairness and accuracy of the criminal proceeding" are given retroactive effect. Saffle v. Parks, 494 U.S. 484, 495, 110 S.Ct. 1257, 108 L.Ed.2d 415. Such a rule must be one [124 S.Ct. 2521] "without which the likelihood of an accurate conviction is seriously diminished." Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288, 313, 109 S.Ct. 1060, 103 L.Ed.2d 334. Pp. 2522-2523.

(b) Ring's holding is properly classified as procedural. It did not alter the range of conduct or the class of persons subject to the death penalty in Arizona, but only the method of determining whether the defendant engaged in that conduct. Pp. 2523-2524.

(c) Ring did not announce a watershed rule of criminal procedure. This Court cannot confidently say that judicial factfinding seriously diminishes accuracy. Pp. 2524-2526.

341 F.3d 1082, reversed and remanded.

SCALIA, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and O'CONNOR, KENNEDY, and THOMAS, JJ., joined. BREYER, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which STEVENS, SOUTER, and GINSBURG, JJ., joined, post, p. 2526.

COUNSEL

John P. Todd, Phoenix, AZ, for Petitioner.

James A. Feldman, for United States as amicus curiae, by special leave of the Court, supporting the Petitioner.

Fredric F. Kay, Federal Public Defender, Ken Murray, Michael L. Burke, Leticia Marquez, Phoenix, AZ, Larry A. Hammond, John A. Stookey, Daniel L. Kaplan, Osborn Maledon, P.A., Phoenix, AZ, for Respondent.

OPINION

SCALIA, Justice.

Page 349

In this case, we decide whether Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584, 122 S.Ct. 2428, 153 L.Ed.2d 556 (2002), applies retroactively to cases already final on direct review.

Page 350

I In April 1981, Finance America employee Brenna Bailey disappeared while on a house call to discuss an outstanding debt with respondent Warren Summerlin's wife. That evening, an anonymous woman (later identified as respondent's mother-in-law) called the police and accused respondent of murdering Bailey. Bailey's partially nude body, her skull crushed, was found the next morning in the trunk of her car, wrapped in a bedspread from respondent's home. Police arrested respondent and later overheard him make incriminating remarks to his wife.

Respondent was convicted of first-degree murder and sexual assault. Arizona's capital sentencing provisions in effect at the time authorized the death penalty if one of several enumerated aggravating factors was present. See Ariz.Rev.Stat. Ann. §§ 13-703(E), (F) (West 1978), as amended by Act of May 1, 1979 Ariz. Sess. Laws ch. 144. Whether those aggravating factors existed, however, was determined by the trial judge rather than by a jury. § 13-703(B). In this case the judge, after a hearing, found two aggravating factors: a prior felony conviction involving use or threatened use of violence, § 13-703(F)(2), and commission of the offense in an especially heinous, cruel, or depraved manner, § 13-703(F)(6). Finding no mitigating factors, the judge imposed the death sentence. The Arizona Supreme Court affirmed on direct review. State v. Summerlin, 138 Ariz. 426, 675 P.2d 686 (1983).

Protracted state and federal habeas proceedings followed. While respondent's [124 S.Ct. 2522] case was pending in the Ninth Circuit, we decided Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 120 S.Ct. 2348, 147 L.Ed.2d 435 (2000), and Ring v. Arizona, supra. In Apprendi, we interpreted the constitutional due-process and jury-trial guarantees to require that, "[o]ther than the fact of a prior conviction, any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum must be submitted to a jury, and proved beyond a reasonable doubt." 530 U.S., at 490, 120 S.Ct. 2348. In Page 351

Ring, we applied this principle to a death sentence imposed under the Arizona sentencing scheme at issue here. We concluded that, because Arizona law authorized the death penalty only if an aggravating factor was present, Apprendi required the existence of such a factor to be proved to a jury rather than to a judge. 536 U.S., at 603-609, 122 S.Ct. 2428. [1] We specifically overruled our earlier decision in Walton v. Arizona, 497 U.S. 639, 110 S.Ct. 3047, 111 L.Ed.2d 511 (1990), which had upheld an Arizona death sentence against a similar challenge. 536 U.S., at 609, 122 S.Ct. 2428.

The Ninth Circuit, relying on Ring, invalidated respondent's death sentence. Summerlin v. Stewart, 341 F.3d 1082, 1121 (2003) (en banc). [2] It rejected the argument that Ring did not apply because respondent's conviction and sentence had become final on direct review before Ring was decided. We granted certiorari. 540 U.S. 1045, 124 S.Ct. 833, 157 L.Ed.2d 692 (2003). [3]

II

When a decision of this Court results in a "new rule," that rule applies to all criminal cases still pending on direct review. Griffith v. Kentucky, 479 U.S. 314, 328, 107 S.Ct. 708, 93 L.Ed.2d 649 (1987). As to convictions that are already final, however, the rule applies only in limited circumstances. New substantive rules generally apply retroactively. This includes decisions that narrow the scope of a criminal statute by interpreting its terms, Page 352

see Bousley v. United States, 523 U.S. 614, 620-621, 118 S.Ct. 1604, 140 L.Ed.2d 828 (1998), as well as constitutional determinations that place particular conduct or persons covered by the statute beyond the State's power to punish, see Saffle v. Parks, 494 U.S. 484, 494-495, 110 S.Ct. 1257, 108 L.Ed.2d 415 (1990); Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288, 311, 109 S.Ct. 1060, 103 L.Ed.2d 334 (1989) (plurality opinion). [4] Such rules apply retroactively because they "necessarily carry a significant[124 S.Ct. 2523] risk that a defendant stands convicted of 'an act that the law does not make criminal' " or faces a punishment that the law cannot impose upon him. Bousley, supra, at 620, 118 S.Ct. 1604 (quoting Davis v. United States, 417 U.S. 333, 346, 94 S.Ct. 2298, 41 L.Ed.2d 109 (1974)).

New rules of procedure, on the other hand, generally do not apply retroactively. They do not produce a class of persons convicted of conduct the law does not make criminal, but merely raise the possibility that someone convicted with use of the invalidated procedure might have been acquitted otherwise. Because of this more speculative connection to innocence, we give retroactive effect to only a small set of " 'watershed rules of criminal procedure' implicating the fundamental fairness and accuracy of the criminal proceeding." Saffle, supra, at 495, 110 S.Ct. 1257 (quoting Teague, 489 U.S., at 311, 109 S.Ct. 1060 (plurality opinion)). That a new procedural rule is "fundamental" in some abstract sense is not enough; the rule must be one "without which the likelihood of an accurate conviction is seriously diminished." Id., at 313, 109 S.Ct. 1060 (emphasis added). This class of rules is extremely narrow, and "it is unlikely that any... 'ha[s] yet to emerge.' " Tyler v. Cain, 533 U.S. 656, 667, n. 7, 121 S.Ct. 2478, 150 L.Ed.2d 632 (2001) (quoting Sawyer v. Smith, 497 U.S. 227, 243, 110 S.Ct. 2822, 111 L.Ed.2d 193 (1990)).

The Ninth Circuit agreed with the State that Ring announced a new rule. 341 F.3d, at 1108-1109. It neverthelessPage 353

applied the rule retroactively to respondent's case, relying on two alternative theories: first, that it was substantive rather than procedural; and second, that it was a "watershed" procedural rule entitled to retroactive effect. We consider each theory in turn.

A

A rule is substantive rather than procedural if it alters the range of conduct or the class of persons that the law punishes. See Bousley, supra, at 620-621, 118 S.Ct. 1604 (rule "hold[s] that a... statute does not reach certain conduct" or "make[s] conduct criminal"); Saffle, supra, at 495, 110 S.Ct. 1257 (rule "decriminalize[s] a class of conduct [or] prohibit[s] the imposition of... punishment on a particular class of persons"). In contrast, rules that regulate only the manner of determining the defendant's culpability are procedural. See Bousley, supra, at 620, 118 S.Ct. 1604.

Judged by this standard,...

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