Holloway v. Horn

Decision Date22 January 2004
Docket NumberNo. 01-9009.,No. 01-9010.,01-9009.,01-9010.
Citation355 F.3d 707
PartiesArnold HOLLOWAY, Appellant, No. 01-9009 v. Martin HORN, Secretary, Doc; Donald Vaughn, Superintendent, SCI-Graterford; The District Attorney of the County of Philadelphia; The Attorney General of the State of Pennsylvania, Appellants, No. 01-9010.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit

Matthew C. Lawry, Billy H. Nolas, David W. Wycoff, (Argued), Defender Association of Philadelphia, Federal Capital Habeas Corpus Unit, Philadelphia, for Appellant/Cross Appellee.

Thomas W. Dolgenos, (Argued), Office of District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Appellees/Cross Appellants.

Before SLOVITER, McKEE and COWEN, Circuit Judges.


COWEN, Circuit Judge.

A Philadelphia jury convicted Arnold Holloway of first-degree murder for the brutal slaying of Richard Caldwell and imposed a sentence of death. Holloway raises several claims of constitutional error in this federal habeas corpus proceeding. We need only reach his contention that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania used its peremptory strikes to exclude African-Americans from the petit jury in violation of the Equal Protection Clause and Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986). The District Court held that Holloway procedurally defaulted his Batson claim by failing to raise it on direct appeal in state court, and alternatively held that the claim was without merit. We conclude that Holloway exhausted his Batson claim both on direct appeal and in state post-conviction proceedings, and committed no procedural default to bar review in federal court. On the merits, the use by the Commonwealth of eleven of its twelve peremptory strikes to exclude African-Americans from the jury, together with the failure to offer race-neutral reasons for the strikes, particularly of venire-person John Hackley, Sr., violated the principles of Batson. Accordingly, we will reverse the District Court's judgment and remand for issuance of the writ conditioned upon the Commonwealth's right to conduct a retrial.

I. Background & Procedural History

In the early morning hours of May 16, 1980, Philadelphia police found the body of seventeen-year-old Richard Caldwell on a secluded North Philadelphia street corner, dead from strangulation and two shotgun wounds to the head. The murder remained unsolved until January 1985, when the police arrested a neighborhood heroin dealer, Shirley Baker, who was wanted for sentencing on several drug-related convictions and had become a suspect in the murder. While in custody, Baker told the police that her fellow dealers, Holloway and Danny Freeman, had murdered Caldwell.

According to Baker, Holloway was a middleman who supplied heroin to Baker, Freeman, and Caldwell for street-level distribution. Holloway, in turn, answered to an individual named Leroy Johnson. Johnson came to believe that Caldwell was "messing up the money" and otherwise interfering with his business plans, and he instructed Holloway to kill Caldwell. Baker claimed that she was in her apartment with Johnson ingesting cocaine around midnight on May 16, when Freeman and Holloway arrived and asked to use Johnson's van. Johnson informed Holloway that Caldwell was in the van, and Holloway replied, "I can take care of that now." Holloway and Freeman retrieved a shotgun from Holloway's upstairs apartment and departed in the van. They returned around thirty minutes later, at which point Holloway whispered with Johnson about having tied up and strangled Caldwell. Holloway, Johnson, and Freeman then left Baker's apartment, with Johnson asking Holloway if he had cleaned up the van.

In May 1985, Philadelphia police located Holloway and took him into custody. According to the Commonwealth's trial evidence, Holloway confessed to the murder while in custody by providing a typewritten statement to Detective Ernest Gilbert, which he refused to sign. Holloway's statement was largely consistent with Baker's account of the murder. Holloway added, however, that he murdered Caldwell because of a threat to his own life from Johnson. He admitted that he and Freeman tied Caldwell's hands together, drove the van several blocks from the apartment, and pushed Caldwell into the street. They strangled Caldwell by taking turns pulling at a belt around his neck, and then shot him twice in the head at close range.

The Commonwealth charged Holloway in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas with first-degree murder, criminal conspiracy, and possession of an instrument of crime. Pretrial litigation arose primarily from the fact that, days prior to Holloway's arrest, a jury had acquitted his alleged accomplice Danny Freeman on charges of murdering Caldwell. Holloway moved to suppress his custodial statement, claiming, inter alia, that he never made it and would not have done so because he knew at the time of his arrest that Freeman had been acquitted. The trial court denied the suppression motion. The trial court also granted a Commonwealth motion to preclude discussion before the jury of Freeman's acquittal. That ruling barred Holloway from arguing that his custodial statement should be disbelieved because he and Detective Gilbert both knew of Freeman's acquittal at the time the statement was purportedly made.

The voir dire examination of prospective jurors, discussed in greater detail below was conducted over the course of three days. The Commonwealth exercised a total of twelve peremptory challenges, eleven of which were used to strike African-Americans. Holloway, an African-American, raised objections, created a record as to the race of the stricken venirepersons, and moved for a mistrial on the ground that a pattern of purposeful discrimination had been established. The prosecutor responded by explaining his reasons for three of the strikes, but the trial court rendered no express or otherwise articulated ruling on Holloway's objections; instead, it implicitly rejected the Batson challenge by letting the matter proceed to trial.

At trial the Commonwealth relied primarily upon the testimony of Shirley Baker and Detective Gilbert. Holloway testified in his own defense, claiming that Detective Gilbert fabricated his custodial statement. Holloway's wife, Delores Kareem, bolstered this assertion by testifying regarding a phone call she received from Holloway shortly after he made the purported statement. Holloway also called as a witness the victim's adopted brother, Alfonso Walker, who testified that other drug dealers were angry with and had assaulted Caldwell shortly before his death. Finally, Holloway presented an alibi defense, seeking to establish that he was intoxicated and at the home of Carmella Davis the night of the murder, in support of which he presented the testimony of Davis and her then-boyfriend.

The jury convicted Holloway on all counts after a three-day trial. A capital sentencing proceeding was conducted immediately following the verdict. The Commonwealth rested on its trial evidence at sentencing, while Holloway presented his wife as the sole sentencing witness. The jury found the two aggravating circumstances asserted by the Commonwealth: (1) Holloway paid or was paid by another person, had contracted to pay or be paid by another person, or had conspired to pay or be paid by another person for the killing, 42 Pa. Cons.Stat. § 9711(d)(2); and (2) the killing was effectuated by means of torture, id. at § 9711(d)(8). The jury also found the two mitigating circumstances upon which it was charged: (1) Holloway had no significant history of prior convictions (to which the Commonwealth had stipulated), id. at § 9711(e)(1); and (2) evidence pertaining to Holloway's character, id. at § 9711(e)(8). It concluded that the two aggravating circumstances outweighed the two mitigating circumstances and imposed a death sentence for the murder conviction. The court also sentenced Holloway to consecutive terms of five to ten years for conspiracy to commit murder, and two and one-half to five years for possessing an instrument of crime.

Holloway pursued a direct appeal as of right to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which affirmed the convictions and sentences. Commonwealth v. Holloway, 524 Pa. 342, 572 A.2d 687 (1990) ("Holloway I"). In 1991, Holloway filed a petition for state-court collateral review under the Pennsylvania Post-Conviction Relief Act, 42 Pa. Cons.Stat. §§ 9541-9546 ("PCRA"). The trial court denied the petition after an evidentiary hearing, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed. Commonwealth v. Holloway, 559 Pa. 258, 739 A.2d 1039 (1999) ("Holloway II").

On April 4, 2000, Holloway timely filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, raising sixteen grounds for relief. The District Court conducted a limited evidentiary hearing regarding the purported procedural default of Holloway's Batson claim, and thereafter issued an opinion denying relief on all trial-phase claims. Holloway v. Horn, 161 F.Supp.2d 452 (E.D.Pa.2001) ("Holloway III"). The District Court held in pertinent part that the Batson claim was procedurally defaulted and, in any event, was without merit. As to the sentencing phase, the District Court concluded that Holloway's counsel provided ineffective assistance in failing to investigate mental-health issues and request the assistance of a mental-health expert. The District Court thus issued the writ conditioned upon the Commonwealth's right to conduct a new sentencing proceeding. Holloway timely appealed (C.A. No. 01-9009), and the Commonwealth timely cross-appealed (C.A. No. 01-9010).

II. Jurisdiction & Standard of Review

We granted Holloway a certificate of appealability to raise six issues on appeal, including whether the Commonwealth used its peremptory strikes in violation of Bat...

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