__ U.S. __ (2014), 14-95, Glebe v. Frost

Docket Nº:14-95
Citation:__ U.S. __, 135 S.Ct. 429, 190 L.Ed.2d 317, 83 U.S.L.W. 4011, 25 Fla.L.Weekly Fed. S 7
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM.
Party Name:PATRICK GLEBE, SUPERINTENDENT, STAFFORD CREEK CORRECTIONS CENTER, Petitioner v. JOSHUA JAMES FROST
Judge Panel:Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, Sotomayor, Kagan.
Case Date:November 17, 2014
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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__ U.S. __ (2014)

135 S.Ct. 429, 190 L.Ed.2d 317, 83 U.S.L.W. 4011, 25 Fla.L.Weekly Fed. S 7

PATRICK GLEBE, SUPERINTENDENT, STAFFORD CREEK CORRECTIONS CENTER, Petitioner

v.

JOSHUA JAMES FROST

No. 14-95

United States Supreme Court

November 17, 2014

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

Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, Sotomayor, Kagan.

OPINION

PER CURIAM.

Over 11 days in April 2003, respondent Joshua Frost helped two associates commit [135 S.Ct. 430] a series of armed robberies in the State of Washington. In the main, Frost drove his confederates to and from their crimes. On one occasion, he also entered the house being robbed. On another, he performed surveillance in anticipation of the robbery.

Washington charged Frost with robbery and related offenses. Taking the witness stand, Frost admitted to his involvement, but claimed he acted under duress. As closing arguments drew near, however, Frost's lawyer expressed the desire to contend both (1) that the State failed to meet its burden of proving that Frost was an accomplice to the crimes and (2) that Frost acted under duress. The trial judge insisted that the defense choose between these alternative arguments, explaining that state law prohibited a defendant from simultaneously contesting the elements of the crime and presenting the affirmative defense of duress. So Frost's lawyer limited his summation to duress. The jury convicted Frost of six counts of robbery, one count of attempted robbery, one count of burglary, and two counts of assault.

The Washington Supreme Court sustained Frost's conviction. It rejected the trial court's view that state law prohibited Frost from simultaneously contesting criminal liability and arguing duress. State v. Frost, 160 Wash.2d 765, 773-776, 161 P.3d 361, 366-368 (2007) (en banc). By preventing the defense from presenting both theories during summation, it said, the trial court violated the National Constitution's Due Process and Assistance of Counsel Clauses. Id., at 777-779, 161 P.3d, at 368-369. But the State Supreme Court continued, this improper restriction of closing argument qualified as a trial error (a mistake reviewable for harmlessness) rather than a structural error (a mistake that requires automatic reversal). Id., at 779-782, 161 P.3d, at 369-370...

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