Holland v. Jackson, No. 03-1200.

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtPer Curiam
Citation542 U.S. 649
PartiesHOLLAND, WARDEN v. JACKSON
Docket NumberNo. 03-1200.
Decision Date28 June 2004
542 U.S. 649
HOLLAND, WARDEN
v.
JACKSON
No. 03-1200.
Supreme Court of United States.
Decided June 28, 2004.

Tennessee's principal evidence at respondent's murder trial was Jonathan Hughes' eyewitness testimony that he was at the scene with Melissa Gooch, who did not testify. Respondent was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. After unsuccessfully moving for a new trial, he sought state postconviction relief, alleging, inter alia, that his trial counsel had been ineffective in failing to conduct an adequate investigation. See Strickland v. Washington, 466 U. S. 668. The trial court denied relief after an evidentiary hearing, finding that counsel's performance was not deficient and that, in any event, respondent suffered no prejudice. Respondent then moved for a new trial, claiming for the first time—after seven years—that Gooch would testify that she was not with Hughes on the night in question. The trial court denied the motion. In affirming that denial, the State Court of Criminal Appeals found that respondent had filed an earlier such motion and given no satisfactory reason for failing to locate Gooch in seven years, and that Gooch's testimony would only impeach Hughes' memory. In affirming the denial of postconviction relief, the court noted that there had been no showing on the record of favorable evidence that counsel could have elicited from Gooch and that respondent's pleading did not contradict what Hughes claimed to have seen. The Federal District Court granted the State summary judgment on respondent's subsequent federal habeas claim, finding the state court's application of Strickland erroneous but not unreasonable within the meaning of 28 U. S. C. §2254(d)(1). The Sixth Circuit reversed, concluding that the state court had unreasonably applied Strickland, given that Gooch's statement undermined Hughes' credibility, and finding that the state court's opinion was contrary to Strickland because it assessed prejudice under a preponderance-of-the-evidence, rather than a reasonable-probability, standard.

Held: The Sixth Circuit erred in granting relief under § 2254(d)(1). First, it found the state court's application of Strickland unreasonable on the basis of evidence not properly before the state court. Although the state court ventured that it would deny relief on the merits taking Gooch's statement into account, its judgment also rested on the holding that her statement was not properly before it. Granting relief in disregard

[542 U.S. 650]

of this independent basis for decision was error, for the question whether a state court's decision was unreasonable must be assessed in light of the record before that court, see, e. g., Yarborough v. Gentry, 540 U. S. 1, 6. Second, the Sixth Circuit erred in holding that the state court required proof by a preponderance of the evidence. The state court recited the correct reasonable-probability standard, but the Sixth Circuit inferred from three subsequent passages in the state court's opinion that the state court had actually applied a preponderance standard. In doing so, the Sixth Circuit ignored § 2254(d)'s requirements that "state-court decisions be given the benefit of the doubt," Woodford v. Visciotti, 537 U. S. 19, 24, and that "readiness to attribute error is inconsistent with the presumption that state courts know and follow the law," ibid.

Certiorari granted; 80 Fed. Appx. 392, reversed and remanded.

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

PER CURIAM.


I

Respondent Jessie Jackson was tried in 1987 by the State of Tennessee for the murder of James Crawley. The State asserted that he had shot Crawley after an argument over drugs. Its principal evidence at trial was the eyewitness testimony of Jonathan Hughes, who claimed to have been at the scene with his girlfriend Melissa Gooch when the shooting occurred. Gooch did not testify. The jury convicted, and respondent was sentenced to life imprisonment.

After unsuccessfully moving for a new trial, respondent sought state postconviction relief, alleging, inter alia, that his trial counsel had been ineffective in failing to conduct an adequate investigation. See Strickland v. Washington, 466 U. S. 668 (1984). The state court held an evidentiary hearing and then denied the petition, finding that counsel's performance was not deficient and that, in any event, respondent suffered no prejudice. Respondent then filed a "Motion for Hearing in Nature of Motion for New Trial," alleging newly discovered evidence. He claimed for the first time—seven years after his conviction—that Gooch would now testify that, contrary to Hughes' trial testimony, she was not with

542 U.S. 651

Hughes on the night of the shooting. The state court denied this motion, and respondent appealed both rulings to the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.

That court affirmed. It upheld the denial of new trial, observing that respondent had already filed an earlier such motion, that there was "no satisfactory reason given for the defendant's failure to locate this witness" during the seven years that had elapsed, and that the proposed testimony "would serve merely to impeach Hughes' memory about having seen [Gooch] that night." App. to Pet. for Cert. 88. It also affirmed the denial of postconviction relief, noting that there had never "been any...

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658 practice notes
  • Detrich v. Ryan, No. 08–99001.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • May 2, 2012
    ...evidence in state court. Michael Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 420, 435, 120 S.Ct. 1479, 146 L.Ed.2d 435 (2000); accord Holland v. Jackson, 542 U.S. 649, 652–53, 124 S.Ct. 2736, 159 L.Ed.2d 683 (2004) (per curiam) (holding that new evidence can be considered so long as the petitioner “was no......
  • Keenan v. Bagley, CASE NO. 1:01 CV 2139
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • April 24, 2012
    ...hearing, such as when the petitioner seeks to introduce new evidence based on a motion to expand the record. Holland v. Jackson, 542 U.S. 649, 653 (2004). Here, many of Keenan's Brady claims are based on new evidence - most of which he claims surfaced in the D'Ambosio habeas case - that he ......
  • Mashburn v. Sec'y, Case No.: 4:12cv289/RS/EMT
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Florida
    • November 17, 2014
    ...was an unreasonable application of a legal principle must be assessed in light of the record the court had before it. Holland v. Jackson, 542 U.S. 649, 652, 124 S. Ct. 2736, 2737-38, 159 L. Ed. 2d 683 (2004) (per curiam); cf. Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 697 n.4, 122 S. Ct. 1843, 1851 n.4, 1......
  • McCarthan v. Jones, Case No. 4:15cv406/MW/CJK
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Florida
    • October 18, 2017
    ...was "objectively unreasonable" in light of the record before the state court. See Williams, 529 U.S. at 409; Holland v. Jackson, 542 U.S. 649, 652, 124 S. Ct. 2736, 159 L. Ed. 2d 683 (2004). The Supreme Court described the "unreasonable application" standard this way:When reviewing state cr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
662 cases
  • Detrich v. Ryan, No. 08–99001.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • May 2, 2012
    ...evidence in state court. Michael Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 420, 435, 120 S.Ct. 1479, 146 L.Ed.2d 435 (2000); accord Holland v. Jackson, 542 U.S. 649, 652–53, 124 S.Ct. 2736, 159 L.Ed.2d 683 (2004) (per curiam) (holding that new evidence can be considered so long as the petitioner “was no......
  • Keenan v. Bagley, CASE NO. 1:01 CV 2139
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • April 24, 2012
    ...hearing, such as when the petitioner seeks to introduce new evidence based on a motion to expand the record. Holland v. Jackson, 542 U.S. 649, 653 (2004). Here, many of Keenan's Brady claims are based on new evidence - most of which he claims surfaced in the D'Ambosio habeas case - that he ......
  • Mashburn v. Sec'y, Case No.: 4:12cv289/RS/EMT
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Florida
    • November 17, 2014
    ...was an unreasonable application of a legal principle must be assessed in light of the record the court had before it. Holland v. Jackson, 542 U.S. 649, 652, 124 S. Ct. 2736, 2737-38, 159 L. Ed. 2d 683 (2004) (per curiam); cf. Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 697 n.4, 122 S. Ct. 1843, 1851 n.4, 1......
  • McCarthan v. Jones, Case No. 4:15cv406/MW/CJK
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Florida
    • October 18, 2017
    ...was "objectively unreasonable" in light of the record before the state court. See Williams, 529 U.S. at 409; Holland v. Jackson, 542 U.S. 649, 652, 124 S. Ct. 2736, 159 L. Ed. 2d 683 (2004). The Supreme Court described the "unreasonable application" standard this way:When reviewing state cr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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