Collins v. Youngblood, No. 89-742

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtREHNQUIST, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which WHITE, BLACKMUN, O'CONNOR, SCALIA, and KENNEDY, JJ., joined. STEVENS
Citation111 L.Ed.2d 30,497 U.S. 37,110 S.Ct. 2715
Docket NumberNo. 89-742
Decision Date21 June 1990
PartiesJames A. COLLINS, Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Institutional Division, Petitioner v. Carroll F. YOUNGBLOOD

497 U.S. 37
110 S.Ct. 2715
111 L.Ed.2d 30
James A. COLLINS, Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Institutional Division, Petitioner

v.

Carroll F. YOUNGBLOOD.

No. 89-742.
Argued March 19, 1990.
Decided June 21, 1990.
Syllabus

Respondent was convicted in a Texas state court of aggravated sexual abuse and sentenced to life imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. After his conviction and sentence were affirmed on direct appeal, he applied for a writ of habeas corpus in state court, arguing that Texas law did not authorize both a fine and prison term for his offense, and thus that his judgment and sentence were void and he was entitled to a new trial. The court, bound by a State Court of Criminal Appeals' decision, recommended that the writ be granted. Before the writ was considered by the Court of Criminal Appeals, however, a new statute was passed allowing an appellate court to reform an improper verdict assessing a punishment not authorized by law. Thus, the Court of Criminal Appeals reformed the verdict by ordering that the fine be deleted and denied the request for a new trial. Arguing that the new Texas law's retroactive application violated the Ex Post Facto Clause of Art. 1, § 10 of the Federal Constitution, respondent sought a writ of habeas corpus in Federal District Court, which was denied. The Court of Appeals reversed. Relying on the statement in Thompson v. Utah, 170 U.S. 343, 18 S.Ct. 620, 42 L.Ed. 1061, that retroactive procedural statutes violate the Ex Post Facto Clause unless they "leave untouched all the substantial protections with which existing law surrounds the . . . accused," the court held that respondent's right to a new trial under former Texas law was a "substantial protection."

Held:

1. Although the rule of Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288, 109 S.Ct. 1060, 103 L.Ed.2d 334—which prohibits the retroactive application of new rules to cases on collateral review—is grounded in important considerations of federal-state relations, it is not jurisdictional in the sense that this Court, despite a limited grant of certiorari, must raise and decide the issue sua sponte. Since Texas has chosen not to rely on Teague, the merits of respondent's claim will be considered. Pp. 40-41

2. The application of the Texas statute to respondent is not prohibited by the Ex Post Facto Clause. Pp. 41-52.

(a) The definition of an ex post facto law as one that (1) punishes as a crime an act previously committed, which was innocent when done, (2)

Page 38

makes more burdensome the punishment for a crime, after its commission, or (3) deprives one charged with a crime of any defense available according to law at the time when the act was committed, Beazell v. Ohio, 269 U.S. 167, 46 S.Ct. 68, 70 L.Ed. 216, is faithful to this Court's best knowledge of the original understanding of the Clause: Legislatures may not retroactively alter the definition of crimes or increase the punishment for criminal acts. Respondent concedes that Texas' statute does not fall within the Beazell categories, since it is a procedural change in the law. However, he errs in arguing that this Court's decisions have not limited the Clause's scope to those categories, but have stated more broadly that retroactive legislation contravenes the Clause if it deprives an accused of a "substantial protection" under law existing at the time of the crime, and that the new trial guaranteed by Texas law is such a protection. When cases have described as "procedural" those changes that do not violate the Clause even though they work to the accused's disadvantage, see, e.g., Beazell, supra, at 171, 46 S.Ct., at 69, it is logical to presume that "procedural" refers to changes in the procedures by which a criminal case is adjudicated as opposed to substantive changes in the law. The "substantial protection" discussion in Beazell, Duncan v. Missouri, 152 U.S. 377, 382-383, 14 S.Ct. 570, 571-572, 38 L.Ed. 485, and Malloy v. South Carolina, 237 U.S. 180, 183, 35 S.Ct. 507, 508, 59 L.Ed. 905, has imported confusion into the Clause's interpretation and should be read to mean that a legislature does not immunize a law from scrutiny under the Clause simply by labeling the law "procedural." It should not be read to adopt without explanation an undefined enlargement of the Clause. Pp. 41-46.

(b) Kring v. Missouri, 107 U.S. 221, 2 S.Ct. 443, 27 L.Ed. 506, and Thompson v. Utah, supra, are inconsistent with the understanding of the term "ex post facto law" at the time the Constitution was adopted, rely on reasoning that this Court has not followed since Thompson was decided, and have caused confusion in state and lower federal courts about the Clause's scope. Kring and Thompson are therefore overruled. Pp. 47-52.

882 F.2d 956 (Ca 5 1989), reversed.

REHNQUIST, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which WHITE, BLACKMUN, O'CONNOR, SCALIA, and KENNEDY, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which BRENNAN and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. 52.

Charles A. Palmer, Austin, Tex., for petitioner.

Page 39

Jon R. Farrar, for respondent.

Chief Justice REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.

The question presented in this case is whether the application of a Texas statute, which was passed after respondent's crime and which allowed the reformation of an improper jury verdict in respondent's case, violates the Ex Post Facto Clause of Art. I, § 10. We hold that it does not.

Respondent Carroll Youngblood was convicted in a Texas court of aggravated sexual abuse. The jury imposed punishment of life imprisonment and a fine of $10,000. After his conviction and sentence were affirmed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Youngblood applied for a writ of habeas corpus in the State District Court. He argued that the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure did not authorize a fine in addition to a term of imprisonment for his offense, and, thus, under the decision of the Court of Criminal Appeals in Bogany v. State, 661 S.W.2d 957 (1983), the judgment and sentence were void, and he was entitled to a new trial.1 In April 1985, the District Court, feeling bound by Bogany, recommended that the writ be granted.

Before the habeas application was considered by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which has the exclusive power under Texas law to grant writs of habeas corpus, see Tex.Code Crim.Proc.Ann., Art. 11.07 (Vernon 1977 and Supp.1990), a new Texas statute designed to modify the Bogany

Page 40

decision became effective. Article 37.10(b), as of June 11, 1985, allows an appellate court to reform an improper verdict that assesses a punishment not authorized by law. Tex.Code Crim.Proc.Ann., Art. 37.10(b) (Vernon Supp.1990); see Ex parte Johnson, 697 S.W.2d 605 (Tex.Crim.App.1985). Relying on that statute, the Court of Criminal Appeals reformed the verdict in Youngblood's case by ordering deletion of the $10,000 fine and denied his request for a new trial.

Youngblood then sought a writ of habeas corpus from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, arguing that the retroactive application of Art. 37.10(b) violated the Ex Post Facto Clause of Art. I, § 10 of the Federal Constitution. The District Court concluded that since Youngblood's "punishment . . . was not increased (but actually decreased), and the elements of the offense or the ultimate facts necessary to establish guilt were not changed," there was no ex post facto violation. App. to Pet. for Cert. C-6.

The Court of Appeals reversed. Youngblood v. Lynaugh, 882 F.2d 956 (CA5 1989). It relied on the statement in this Court's decision in Thompson v. Utah, 170 U.S. 343, 18 S.Ct. 620, 42 L.Ed. 1061 (1898), that retroactive procedural statutes violate the Ex Post Facto Clause unless they " 'leave untouched all the substantial protections with which existing law surrounds the person accused of crime,' " Lynaugh, supra, at 959 (quoting 170 U.S., at 352, 18 S.Ct., at 623). It held that Youngblood's right to a new trial under the Bogany decision was such a "substantial protection," and therefore ordered that a writ of habeas corpus be issued. We granted certiorari. 493 U.S. 1001, 110 S.Ct. 560, 107 L.Ed.2d 555 (1989).

Because respondent is before us on collateral review, we are faced with a threshold question whether the relief sought by Youngblood would constitute a "new rule," which would not apply retroactively under our decisions in Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288, 109 S.Ct. 1060, 103 L.Ed.2d 334 (1989), and Butler v. McKellar, 494 U.S. 407, 110 S.Ct. 1212, 108 L.Ed.2d 347 (1990). Generally speaking, "[r]etroactivity is

Page 41

properly treated as a threshold question, for, once a new rule is applied to the defendant in the case announcing the rule, evenhanded justice requires that it be applied retroactively to all who are similarly situated." Teague, supra, 489 U.S., at 300, 109 S.Ct., at 1070. The State of Texas, however, did not address retroactivity in its petition for certiorari or its briefs on the merits, and when asked about the issue at oral argument, counsel answered that the State had chosen not to rely on Teague. Tr. of Oral Arg. 4-5. Although the Teague rule is grounded in important considerations of federal-state relations, we think it is not "jurisdictional" in the sense that this Court, despite a limited grant of certiorari, must raise and decide the issue sua sponte. Cf. Patsy v. Board of Regents of Fla., 457 U.S. 496, 515, n. 19, 102 S.Ct. 2557, 2567, n. 19, 73 L.Ed.2d 172 (1982) (Eleventh Amendment defense need not be raised and decided by the Court on its own motion). We granted certiorari to consider the merits of respondent's ex post facto claim, and we proceed to do so.

Although the Latin phrase "ex post facto" literally encompasses any law passed "after the fact," it has long been recognized by this Court that the constitutional prohibition on ex post facto laws applies only to penal statutes which...

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1857 practice notes
  • U.S. v. McGlory, Nos. 90-3604
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • June 19, 1992
    ...for criminal acts in violation of the Ex Post Facto Page 351 Clause of the United States Constitution, see Collins v. Youngblood, 497 U.S. 37, 110 S.Ct. 2715, 2718-24, 111 L.Ed.2d 30 (1990), those rules do not apply to the Pennsylvania legislature's decision in enacting the Controlled Subst......
  • Al Bahlul v. United States, No. 11–1324.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 14, 2014
    ...time of the framing.” Peugh v. United States, ––– U.S. ––––, 133 S.Ct. 2072, 2081, 186 L.Ed.2d 84 (2013) (quoting Collins v. Youngblood, 497 U.S. 37, 41, 110 S.Ct. 2715, 111 L.Ed.2d 30 (1990) ) (quotation marks omitted). In Calder v. Bull, Justice Chase set forth his understanding of that m......
  • U.S. v. Baker, Nos. 89-10302
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • December 13, 1993
    ...] one charged with crime of any defense available according to law at the time when the act was committed.' " Collins v. Youngblood, 497 U.S. 37, 42, 110 S.Ct. 2715, 2719, 111 L.Ed.2d 30 (1990) (quoting Beazell v. Ohio, 269 U.S. 167, 169-70, 46 S.Ct. 68, 69, 70 L.Ed. 216 (1925)). In United ......
  • Plaut v. Spendthrift Farm Inc., 931121
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 18, 1995
    ...and acts belatedly to remedy a deficiency in the law. That is a routine result of constitutional rules. See, e.g., Collins v. Youngblood, 497 U.S. 37, 110 S.Ct. 2715, 111 L.Ed.2d 30 (1990) (Ex Post Facto Clause precludes post-offense statutory extension of a criminal sentence); United State......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1854 cases
  • U.S. v. McGlory, Nos. 90-3604
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • June 19, 1992
    ...for criminal acts in violation of the Ex Post Facto Page 351 Clause of the United States Constitution, see Collins v. Youngblood, 497 U.S. 37, 110 S.Ct. 2715, 2718-24, 111 L.Ed.2d 30 (1990), those rules do not apply to the Pennsylvania legislature's decision in enacting the Controlled Subst......
  • Al Bahlul v. United States, No. 11–1324.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 14, 2014
    ...time of the framing.” Peugh v. United States, ––– U.S. ––––, 133 S.Ct. 2072, 2081, 186 L.Ed.2d 84 (2013) (quoting Collins v. Youngblood, 497 U.S. 37, 41, 110 S.Ct. 2715, 111 L.Ed.2d 30 (1990) ) (quotation marks omitted). In Calder v. Bull, Justice Chase set forth his understanding of that m......
  • U.S. v. Baker, Nos. 89-10302
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • December 13, 1993
    ...] one charged with crime of any defense available according to law at the time when the act was committed.' " Collins v. Youngblood, 497 U.S. 37, 42, 110 S.Ct. 2715, 2719, 111 L.Ed.2d 30 (1990) (quoting Beazell v. Ohio, 269 U.S. 167, 169-70, 46 S.Ct. 68, 69, 70 L.Ed. 216 (1925)). In United ......
  • Plaut v. Spendthrift Farm Inc., 931121
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 18, 1995
    ...and acts belatedly to remedy a deficiency in the law. That is a routine result of constitutional rules. See, e.g., Collins v. Youngblood, 497 U.S. 37, 110 S.Ct. 2715, 111 L.Ed.2d 30 (1990) (Ex Post Facto Clause precludes post-offense statutory extension of a criminal sentence); United State......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3 provisions
  • Debarment orders: Girdhari, Premchand,
    • United States
    • Federal Register January 21, 2000
    • January 21, 2000
    ...that was already in effect when the crime was committed. (Ex Parte Garland, 4 Wall. 333, 337, 18 L.Ed. 366 (1866); Collins v. Youngblood, 110 S.Ct. 2715 (1990).) Mr. Girdhari claims that the debarment provisions are punitive in nature for several First, Mr. Girdhari argues that the debarmen......
  • Debarment orders: Bhutani, Baldev Raj,
    • United States
    • Federal Register December 02, 2004
    • December 2, 2004
    ...to one that was in effect when the crime was committed. Ex Parte Garland, 4 Wall 333, 337, 18L. Ed 366 (1866); Collins v. Youngblood, 497 U.S. 37 Mr. Bhutani's assertion regarding section 301(e) relates to the facts and findings underlying his conviction. These facts and findings are not re......
  • Debarment orders: Kostas, Constantine I.,
    • United States
    • Federal Register June 25, 1998
    • June 25, 1998
    ...to one that was in effect when the crime was committed. (Ex Parte Garland, 4 Wall. 333, 377, 18 L. Ed. 366 (1866); Collins v. Youngblood, 497 U.S. 37 Dr. Kostas' argument that application of the mandatory debarment provisions of the act is prohibited by the ex post facto clause is unpersuas......

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