Grigsby v. Mabry, Nos. 80-1262

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore LAY, Chief Judge, GIBSON, Senior Circuit Judge, and HEANEY; LAY; HEANEY; FLOYD R. GIBSON
Docket Number80-1286,Nos. 80-1262
PartiesJames T. GRIGSBY, Appellant, v. James MABRY, Commissioner, Arkansas Department of Correction, Appellee. James T. GRIGSBY, Appellee, v. James MABRY, Commissioner, Arkansas Department of Correction, Appellant.
Decision Date06 November 1980

Page 525

637 F.2d 525
James T. GRIGSBY, Appellant,
v.
James MABRY, Commissioner, Arkansas Department of
Correction, Appellee.
James T. GRIGSBY, Appellee,
v.
James MABRY, Commissioner, Arkansas Department of
Correction, Appellant.
Nos. 80-1262, 80-1286.
United States Court of Appeals,
Eighth Circuit.
Submitted Sept. 8, 1980.
Decided Nov. 6, 1980.

Page 526

William R. Wilson, Jr., argued, Wilson & Engstrom and Thomas M. Carpenter, Lessenberry & Carpenter, Little Rock, Ark., for appellant.

Steve Clark, Atty. Gen., for the State of Ark., Victra L. Fewell and Jack W. Dickerson, argued, Asst. Attys. Gen., Little Rock, Ark., for appellee.

Before LAY, Chief Judge, GIBSON, Senior Circuit Judge, and HEANEY, Circuit Judge.

LAY, Chief Judge.

Petitioner Grigsby was convicted of capital felony murder in Franklin County Circuit Court for the State of Arkansas. In 1978, Grigsby filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in district court, alleging, among other grounds, that the determination of his guilt by a "death-qualified" jury deprived him of trial by a fair and impartial jury. 1 The district court held "that the refusal of the trial court to allow a continuance so that the petitioner could attempt to make the evidentiary showing suggested in Witherspoon, 2 of the guilt proneness of 'death-qualified' juries so seriously denigrated his constitutional right to an impartial jury that the denial amounted to an

Page 527

abuse of discretion." Grigsby v. Mabry, 483 F.Supp. 1372, 1388 (E.D.Ark.1980). The district court ordered that the state grant Grigsby an evidentiary hearing on his constitutional claim and allow him to appeal the decision or retry him. Both Grigsby and the state appealed.

I. The Constitutional Issue.

This court can entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus only on the ground that the petitioner is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Grigsby's constitutional claim is that he was denied a trial by an impartial jury. We deem this constitutional issue distinct from the question whether the trial court abused its discretion in refusing to grant a continuance so that Grigsby could present his constitutional claim. Jones v. Swenson, 469 F.2d 535, 537 (8th Cir. 1972), cert. denied, 412 U.S. 929, 93 S.Ct. 2756, 37 L.Ed.2d 156 (1973); United States v. Leach, 429 F.2d 956, 963 (8th Cir. 1970), cert. denied, 402 U.S. 986, 91 S.Ct. 1675, 29 L.Ed.2d 151 (1971); Johnson v. United States, 291 F.2d 150, 153 (8th Cir.), cert. denied, 368 U.S. 880, 82 S.Ct. 130, 7 L.Ed.2d 80 (1961); Davis v. Alabama, 545 F.2d 460, 466 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 431 U.S. 957, 97 S.Ct. 2682, 53 L.Ed.2d 275 (1977). If the district court had decided the abuse of discretion issue against Grigsby, rather than for him, his constitutional claim would nevertheless have survived because he attempted to present that claim to the state court and subsequently exhausted his state remedies. 483 F.Supp. at 1376. Traditionally, the matter of a continuance is within the discretion of the trial court. Jones v. Swenson, 469 F.2d at 537. See also Venable v. State, 260 Ark. 201, 538 S.W.2d 286 (1976). In some circumstances, however, the trial court's refusal to grant a continuance may deny a defendant effective assistance of counsel or be so arbitrary as to violate due process rights. See Davis v. Alabama, 545 F.2d at 466-67. But whether, in this case, there occurred any abuse of discretion is independent of the petitioner's right to an evidentiary hearing on his claim that he was denied trial by an impartial jury.

The record demonstrates that Grigsby did not receive a full and fair evidentiary hearing in state court on three factual issues: (1) whether death-qualified jurors are more likely to convict than jurors selected without regard for their views on the death penalty, (2) whether death-qualified jurors are more likely to convict of a higher degree of murder than jurors selected without regard for their death penalty views, and (3) whether the jurors in this case were in fact death-qualified. These questions must be answered because if they are answered in the affirmative, Grigsby has made a case that his constitutional rights have been violated and he would be entitled to a new trial.

In Townsend v. Sain, 372 U.S. 293, 83 S.Ct. 745, 9 L.Ed.2d 770 (1963), the Supreme Court stated:

Where the facts are in dispute, the federal court in habeas corpus must hold an evidentiary hearing if the habeas applicant did not receive a full and fair evidentiary hearing in a state court, either at the time of the trial or in a collateral proceeding. In other words a federal evidentiary hearing is required unless the state-court trier of fact has after a full hearing reliably found the relevant facts.

Id. at 312-13, 83 S.Ct. at 756.

The district court found the petitioner's evidence sufficient to raise a serious question whether a death-qualified jury is more likely to convict than a jury selected without regard for jurors' scruples against the death penalty. 3 483 F.Supp. at 1387.

Page 528

See Hovey v. Superior Court, 28 Cal.3d 1, 168 Cal.Rptr. 128, 616 P.2d 1301 (1980). Grigsby's counsel indicated at oral argument before this court, given the opportunity for a full evidentiary hearing, that there exists additional evidence which will be produced to supplement the record. Thus, the record is not complete for our review to determine whether petitioner will prevail or not on the merits. Under the circumstances, we find no error in requiring a further evidentiary hearing.

II. The Appropriate Forum.

The district court remanded this case to the state trial court for an evidentiary hearing on Grigsby's constitutional claim. We conclude, however, the nature of the habeas corpus remedy and the jurisdictional threshold of exhaustion of state remedies makes the district court a more appropriate forum for the required evidentiary hearing. The district court found that Grigsby had exhausted the state remedies on his claim but decided to allow the state courts another opportunity to rule on Grigsby's claim, even though the state had three times previously denied his request for a hearing. 483 F.Supp. 1376. The Supreme Court has stated that Congress did not intend section 2254 "to require repetitious applications to state courts." Brown v. Allen, 344 U.S. 443, 449 n.3, 73 S.Ct. 397, 403 n.3, 97 L.Ed. 469 (1953); Wilwording v. Swenson, 404 U.S. 249, 250, 92 S.Ct. 407, 408, 30 L.Ed.2d 418 (1971). Nor does the mere possibility of success in additional state proceedings bar federal relief. Roberts v. LaVallee, 389 U.S. 40, 42-43, 88 S.Ct. 194, 196, 19 L.Ed.2d 41 (1967). The district court's opinion reflects extensive research into the record, the psychiatric evidence on death-qualified jurors, and the relevant case law. Since Grigsby exhausted his state remedies, we conclude the district court should have reached the merits of his claim rather than holding that the trial court abused its discretion in refusing to grant a continuance. The Fifth Circuit has addressed the propriety of remanding a petitioner's constitutional claims for a state court hearing and requiring further appellate proceedings in the state court. In Dixon v. Beto, 472 F.2d 598 (5th Cir. 1973), the court stated:

The exhaustion of state remedies doctrine, ... is based on principles of comity to afford the state courts the first opportunity to pass on the claims of state prisoners that they were deprived of federal constitutional rights in connection with their restraint. Once state remedies are exhausted, it is the duty of the federal courts to pass on such claims. The federal courts are not empowered to order the state courts to make remedies available nor are they authorized to dictate the type of hearing which is to be conducted by the state courts.

Id. 472 F.2d at 599 (emphasis added).

Accord, Anderson v. Beto, 469 F.2d 1076, 1077-78 (5th Cir. 1972). This limitation on federal courts seems to have been modified to a preference that the evidentiary hearing be held in the district court rather than the state court, Lokos v. Capps, 569 F.2d 1362, 1363 (5th Cir. 1978); accord, Fitch v. Estelle, 587 F.2d 773, 778-79 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 444 U.S. 881, 100 S.Ct. 170, 62 L.Ed.2d 111 (1979), but once exhaustion has been shown the policies favoring a federal hearing remain the same. See generally Henson v. Wyrick, No. 79-1808 (8th Cir. April 29, 1980); Ross v. Wyrick, 581 F.2d 172 (8th Cir. 1978); Murrah v. Arkansas, 532 F.2d 105, 107-08 (8th Cir. 1976); Newman v. Henderson, 539 F.2d 502, 504 (5th Cir. 1976), cert. denied, 433 U.S. 914, 97 S.Ct. 2986, 53 L.Ed.2d 1100 (1977); Spratley v. Paderick, 528 F.2d 733 (4th Cir. 1975); Gibson v. Blair, 467 F.2d 842, 844 (5th Cir. 1972).

This court has recognized the broad discretion of the district court to "send a case back to the state courts to resolve issues more properly considered by the judge who experienced the trial first hand." United States ex rel. McQueen v. Wangelin, 527

Page 529

F.2d 579, 581 (8th Cir. 1975) 4; see also Hart v. Eyman, 458 F.2d 334, 338-40 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 407 U.S. 916, 92 S.Ct. 244, 32 L.Ed.2d 691 (1972). The issues in this case, however, are not of the kind more properly considered by the judge who experienced the trial first hand. Cf. Jackson v. Denno, 378 U.S. 368, 84 S.Ct. 1774, 12 L.Ed.2d 908 (1964); Boles v. Stevenson, 379 U.S. 43, 85 S.Ct. 174, 13 L.Ed.2d 109 (1964); Patterson v. Lockhart, 513...

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  • People v. Fields, Cr. 21126
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • December 29, 1983
    ...a defendant a representative jury at the guilt trial. (Grigsby v. Mabry (E.D.Ark.1980) 483 F.Supp. 1372, 1385, modified (8th Cir.1980) 637 F.2d 525.) Following the Witherspoon decision, we reconsidered our prior decisions but concluded that "[A]ssuming that the jurors otherwise met the stan......
  • State v. Mercer, No. 61797
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • May 11, 1981
    ...of Alameda County, 28 Cal.3d 1, 616 P.2d 1301, 168 Cal.Rptr. 128 (banc 1980) and Grigsby v. Mabry, 483 F.Supp. 1372 (E.D.Ark.), aff'd, 637 F.2d 525 (8th cir. 1980), there should be added White, Death-Qualified Juries: The Prosecution-Proneness Argument Reexamined, 41 U.Pitt.L.Rev. 353 (1980......
  • State v. Bolder, No. 62362
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • July 6, 1982
    ...v. Mercer, 618 S.W.2d at 7-8, and State v. Mitchell, 611 S.W.2d 223, 229 (Mo. banc 1981). Nevertheless, appellant, citing Griggs v. Mabry, 637 F.2d 525 (8th Cir. 1980), requests for the first time on appeal that he be granted an evidentiary hearing to show that his death-qualified jury was ......
  • Grigsby v. Mabry, No. 83-2113
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • March 18, 1985
    ...a "conviction-prone" jury as to the guilt of a defendant in a capital case. 1 On an earlier remand from this court, Grigsby v. Mabry, 637 F.2d 525 (8th Cir.1980), modifying 483 F.Supp. 1372 (E.D.Ark.1980), the district court held a plenary hearing on the issues involved: (1) whether the six......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
30 cases
  • People v. Fields, Cr. 21126
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • December 29, 1983
    ...a defendant a representative jury at the guilt trial. (Grigsby v. Mabry (E.D.Ark.1980) 483 F.Supp. 1372, 1385, modified (8th Cir.1980) 637 F.2d 525.) Following the Witherspoon decision, we reconsidered our prior decisions but concluded that "[A]ssuming that the jurors otherwise met the stan......
  • State v. Mercer, No. 61797
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • May 11, 1981
    ...of Alameda County, 28 Cal.3d 1, 616 P.2d 1301, 168 Cal.Rptr. 128 (banc 1980) and Grigsby v. Mabry, 483 F.Supp. 1372 (E.D.Ark.), aff'd, 637 F.2d 525 (8th cir. 1980), there should be added White, Death-Qualified Juries: The Prosecution-Proneness Argument Reexamined, 41 U.Pitt.L.Rev. 353 (1980......
  • State v. Bolder, No. 62362
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • July 6, 1982
    ...v. Mercer, 618 S.W.2d at 7-8, and State v. Mitchell, 611 S.W.2d 223, 229 (Mo. banc 1981). Nevertheless, appellant, citing Griggs v. Mabry, 637 F.2d 525 (8th Cir. 1980), requests for the first time on appeal that he be granted an evidentiary hearing to show that his death-qualified jury was ......
  • Grigsby v. Mabry, No. 83-2113
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • March 18, 1985
    ...a "conviction-prone" jury as to the guilt of a defendant in a capital case. 1 On an earlier remand from this court, Grigsby v. Mabry, 637 F.2d 525 (8th Cir.1980), modifying 483 F.Supp. 1372 (E.D.Ark.1980), the district court held a plenary hearing on the issues involved: (1) whether the six......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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