Early v. Packer

Decision Date04 November 2002
Docket NumberNo. 01-1765.,01-1765.
Citation537 U.S. 3
PartiesEARLY, WARDEN, ET AL. v. PACKER.
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

A California jury convicted respondent of, inter alia, murder and attempted murder. On direct appeal, the State Court of Appeal rejected his claim that the trial judge coerced his deadlocked jury into continuing deliberations. The Federal District Court dismissed respondent's subsequent federal habeas petition but granted a certificate of appealability on the question whether the state trial judge violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights by coercing the jury into rendering a verdict. The Ninth Circuit reversed on that ground and instructed the District Court to grant the writ.

Held: The Ninth Circuit's decision exceeds the limits imposed on federal habeas review by 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), which forecloses habeas relief on any claim adjudicated on the merits in state-court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim resulted in a decision that (1) was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States, or (2) was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state-court proceedings. The Ninth Circuit erred in believing that a state court's "failure to cite" controlling Supreme Court precedent renders its decision "contrary to" clearly established federal law. Awareness of this Court's cases is not even required, so long as neither the reasoning nor the result of the state-court decision contradicts them. The Ninth Circuit also erred in charging that the Court of Appeal did not apply the totality-of-the-circumstances test required by Lowenfield v. Phelps, 484 U.S. 231. Finally, the Ninth Circuit erred in finding our holdings in Jenkins v. United States, 380 U.S. 445 (per curiam), and United States v. United States Gypsum Co., 438 U.S. 422, which were based on the Court's supervisory power over the federal courts and not on constitutional grounds, applicable to state-court proceedings. Because the Ninth Circuit erroneously found that the State Court of Appeal's decision was contrary to clearly established Supreme Court law, and because it is at least reasonable to conclude that there was no jury coercion here, the State Court of Appeal's determination to that effect must stand.

Certiorari granted; 291 F.3d 569, reversed.

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

PER CURIAM.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted habeas relief to respondent William Packer after concluding that the state trial judge coerced the jury's verdict. Packer v. Hill, 291 F.3d 569 (2002). Because this decision exceeds the limits imposed on federal habeas review by 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), we grant the petition for certiorari and reverse.

I

A California jury convicted respondent of one count of second-degree murder, one count of attempted murder, two counts of attempted robbery, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, and one count of assault with a firearm. It acquitted him on 10 other counts.

The path to the jury's guilty verdicts on the murder and attempted-murder charges was not an easy one. After 28 hours of deliberation, and after the jury had returned sealed verdict forms on all the other charges, juror Eve Radcliff sent a note to the judge requesting to be dismissed from the jury due to "`health problems.'" 291 F. 3d, at 573. The judge then met alone with Radcliff, who explained that "`because of the seriousness of the charges, I can't make snap decisions.... I was beginning to feel a little burned out.'" Ibid. The judge asked Radcliff if she could "`hold out just a little bit longer,'" and when Radcliff agreed the judge replied: "`I really appreciate it. Otherwise, they have to start deliberations all over again with another person.'" Ibid. (emphasis deleted).

The next day, the foreman sent the judge a note stating that "`we can no longer deliberate,'" that "`Eve Radcliff, does not appear to be able to understand the rules as given by you,'" that "`nearly all my fellow jurors questio[n] her ability to understand the rules and her ability to reason,'" and that continuing will result in a "`hung jury ... based on ... one person's inability to reason or desire to be unreasonable.'" Ibid. The judge called the jury into the court-room and, in the presence of the attorneys and the defendant, read the note aloud. The judge asked the foreman whether the jury was deliberating. The foreman replied that the jurors were "`just having the same conversation over the same issue time and time again.'" Id., at 574. The judge made the following statement to the jury:

"`The juror has a right to do that, as you all know. They have a right to disagree with everybody else. But they do not have a right to not deliberate. They must deliberate and follow the rules and laws as I state it to them.'" Ibid.

The judge then asked the foreman what the latest vote count was, but told him not to reveal which side had which number of votes. The foreman indicated that the last vote count had been 11 to 1. After the foreman indicated that further deliberations would be helpful, the judge gave the following instruction to the jury:

"`What you do is — like I think what the instructions were — you apply the facts to the law and you arrive at a decision. The law is right there, and I think elements of the law was [sic] given to you in those instructions. They do this or not do this? Was it proven beyond a reasonable doubt? This element, this element, this element? If they did and you find unanimously they did that, you must follow the law and find them either guilty or not guilty of that charge.'" Ibid. (emphasis deleted).

At this point, defense counsel objected on the ground that the judge was improperly "`instructing the jury . . . as to their manner of deliberation.'" Id., at 574-575. The judge overruled the objection and continued his instruction as follows:

"`Ladies and Gentlemen, the only thing I'm going to tell you right now is; once again, I told you, you'll look up in the instructions paraphrasing it, I think I'm using the correct words: you're the sole judges of the facts. You determine the facts. You then apply the law to those facts as I state it to you, and you must accept and follow the law. You can't make up your own law. You must accept and follow the law as I state it to you.'" Id., at 575.

The judge then excused the jury for the day.

After a day off, deliberations resumed on a Friday. Once again, Radcliff sent the judge a note asking to be dismissed from the jury. This time she complained about "`feeling[s] of distrust and disrespect from the other jurors,'" and said that "`I have reached a point of anger, and I don't believe I can be objective.'" Ibid. The judge again met with Radcliff in his chambers, outside the presence of attorneys, and asked her if she was continuing to deliberate. Radcliff responded that she was "trying," but not to the satisfaction of the others. Id., at 576. The judge thanked her and returned her to the jury room. Then the judge met briefly with the foreman, who assured him that Radcliff was indeed continuing to deliberate. The jury then resumed its deliberations. The following Tuesday, the jury returned a guilty verdict on the attempted-murder count, and the next morning a guilty verdict on the second-degree murder charge.

Respondent appealed his conviction to the Court of Appeal for the State of California, Second Appellate District, arguing that the comments to Radcliff and to the jury were coercive and denied him his due process right to a fair and impartial jury. California law, unlike federal law, prohibits the giving of a so-called Allen v. United States, 164 U.S. 492 (1896), charge to a deadlocked jury — that is, a charge that specifically urges the minority jurors to give weight to the majority's views. People v. Gainer, 19 Cal.3d 835, 852, 566 P.2d 997, 1006 (1977), held that no instruction may be given which either "(1) encourages jurors to consider the numerical division or preponderance of opinion of the jury in forming or reexamining their views on the issues before them; or (2) states or implies that if the jury fails to agree the case will necessarily be retried."

The state appellate court, applying Gainer, rejected respondent's claim. "[T]here is nothing improper," it said, "in urging the jury to consider the matter further with the view to reaching an agreement[,] as long as the language used does not coerce a particular type of verdict. Accordingly, the comments made and not made by the court to the jury did not coerce a particular verdict or deny Packer any constitutional rights." App. to Pet. for Cert. H-15 to H-16 (citations omitted). The court rejected respondent's remaining challenges to his conviction, and the State Supreme Court declined review.

Respondent sought a writ of habeas corpus from the United States District Court for the Central District of California. That court dismissed the petition, but granted a certificate of appealability on the question whether the state trial judge violated respondent's Fourteenth Amendment rights by coercing the jury into rendering a verdict on the attempted-murder and second-degree murder counts. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed on that ground, and instructed the District Court to grant the writ on the murder convictions. California's Attorney General has petitioned for certiorari.

II

When a habeas petitioner's claim has been adjudicated on the merits in state-court proceedings, 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) forecloses relief unless the state court's adjudication of the claim:

"(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or "(2) resulted in a decision that...

To continue reading

Request your trial
4165 cases
  • Mashburn v. Sec'y
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Florida
    • November 17, 2014
    ...our cases, so long as neither the reasoning nor the result of the state-court decision contradicts them." Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8, 123 S. Ct. 362, 365, 154 L. Ed. 2d 263 (2002) (quoting Williams, 529 U.S. at 405-06). If the State court decision is found in either respect to be contra......
  • Jernigan v. Edward
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of California
    • November 7, 2017
    ...of the facts in light of the evidence presented at the state court proceeding. 28 U.S.C.A. § 2254(d) (West 2006); Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 7-8 (2002) (quoting 28 U.S.C.A. § 2254(d)). In deciding a state prisoner's habeas petition, a federal court is not called upon to decide whether it ......
  • Washington v. Sherman
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of California
    • September 30, 2019
    ...determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented at the state court proceeding. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d); Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8 (2002). A federal court is not called upon to decide whether it agrees with the state court's determination; rather, the court applies an extraord......
  • Carrillo v. Biter
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of California
    • February 3, 2012
    ...or have been aware of it, "so long as neither the reasoning nor the result of the state-court decision contradicts [it]." Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8 (2002). A state court unreasonably applies clearly established federal law if it either 1) correctly identifies the governing rule but the......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
4 books & journal articles
  • THE REASONABLENESS OF THE "REASONABLENESS" STANDARD OF HABEAS CORPUS REVIEW UNDER THE ANTITERRORISM AND EFFECTIVE DEATH PENALTY ACT OF 1996.
    • United States
    • Case Western Reserve Law Review Vol. 72 No. 3, March 2022
    • March 22, 2022
    ...Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 102 (2011); Renico v. Lett, 559 U.S. 766, 778-79 (2010); Smith v. Spisak, 558 U.S. 139, 149 (2010); Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8 (2002) (per curiam); Williams, 529 U.S. at (120.) Woods v. Donald, 575 U.S. 312, 317 (2015) (per curiam) (quoting Lopez v. Smith, 574 U.S.......
  • Review Proceedings
    • United States
    • Georgetown Law Journal No. 110-Annual Review, August 2022
    • August 1, 2022
    ...contrary to federal law because of Harmless error review of similar errors in noncapital cases and absence of precedent); Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 7-11 (2002) (per curiam) (state court decision to reject claim that trial judge coerced jury to deliberate further and reach verdict when ju......
  • CHAPTER 2 INTRODUCTION TO AEDPA
    • United States
    • Carolina Academic Press Federal Habeas Corpus: Cases and Materials (CAP)
    • Invalid date
    ...a two-word "postcard" denial, "RELIEF DENIED"? Is this an adjudication on the merits as required by (d)(1)? See generally Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8 (2002) (per curiam) ("Avoiding these pitfalls [a 'contrary to' error] does not require citation ... [or] awareness of [Supreme Court] case......
  • CHAPTER 12 LITIGATING QUESTIONS OF DEFERENCE: WHEN AEDPA DOESN'T APPLY
    • United States
    • Carolina Academic Press Federal Habeas Corpus: Cases and Materials (CAP)
    • Invalid date
    ...whether the state court decision is contrary to a decision reached by the Supreme Court on indistinguishable facts. Cf. Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3 (2002) (holding that failure to cite federal law does not mean that state court decision was contrary to established federal law; state court n......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT