Robinson v. Neil

Decision Date16 January 1973
Docket NumberNo. 71-6272,71-6272
Citation409 U.S. 505,35 L.Ed.2d 29,93 S.Ct. 876
PartiesSamuel Ed ROBINSON, Petitioner, v. William S. NEIL, Warden
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

See 410 U.S. 959, 93 S.Ct. 1423.


Waller v. Florida, 397 U.S. 387, 90 S.Ct. 1184, 25 L.Ed.2d 435, which bars on the ground of double jeopardy two prosecutions, state and municipal, based on the same act or offense, is fully retroactive. Pp. 506—511.

452 F.2d 370, vacated and remanded.

James D. Robinson, Chattanooga, Tenn., for petitioner.

Bart C. Durham, III, Nashville, Tenn., for respondent.

Mr. Justice REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.

In 1962 petitioner was tried and convicted in the Chattanooga municipal court of three counts of assault and battery in violation of a city ordinance. He was fined $50 and costs on each count. He was later indicted by the grand jury of Hamilton County, Tennessee, which, out of the same circumstances giving rise to the municipal trial, charged him with three offenses of assault with intent to commit murder in violation of state law. The petitioner pleaded guilty to the state charges and received consecutive sentences of three to 10 years for two offenses and three to five years for the third offense. He is presently in the custody of the respondent warden of the Tennessee State Penitentiary.

In 1966 the petitioner unsuccessfully sought habeas corpus relief in state courts on the ground that the second convictions for state offenses violated his federal constitutional guarantee against twice being placed in jeopardy for the same offense. In 1967 federal courts denied a similar request for habeas corpus relief. Robinson v. Henderson, 268 F.Supp. 349 (ED Tenn.1967), aff'd, 391 F.2d 933 (CA6 1968). In 1970 the petitioner renewed his claims for habeas relief, basing his arguments on this Court's intervening decisions in Benton v. Maryland, 395 U.S. 784, 89 S.Ct. 2056, 23 L.Ed.2d 707 (1969), and Waller v. Florida, 397 U.S. 387, 90 S.Ct. 1184, 25 L.Ed.2d 435 (1970). Holding that Waller was to be accorded retrospective effect, the District Court granted the petitioner habeas corpus relief. 320 F.Supp. 894 (ED Tenn.1971). The Sixth Circuit reversed (452 F.2d 370 (1971)) and we granted certiorari to decide the retroactivity of Waller v. Florida. Robinson v. Neil, 406 U.S. 916, 92 S.Ct. 1800, 32 L.Ed.2d 115 (1972).

The Fifth Amendment's guarantee that no person be twice put in jeopardy for the same offense was first held binding on the States in Benton v. Maryland, supra. Our subsequent decision in Waller v. Florida, supra, held that the scope of this guarantee precluded the recognition of the 'dual sovereignty' doctrine with respect to separate state and municipal prosecutions. Waller involved the theft of a mural from the City Hall of St. Petersburg, Florida. The petitioner there was first tried and convicted of violating city ordinances with respect to the destruction of city property and breach of the peace. Subsequently, he was convicted of grand larceny in violation of state law involving the same theft. The Court stated:

'the Florida courts were in error to the extent of holding that—

"even if a person has been tried in a municipal court for the identical offense with which he is charged in a state court, this would not be a bar to the prosecution of such person in the proper state court." 397 U.S. at 395, 90 S.Ct., at 1189.

Prior to this Court's 1965 decision in Linkletter v. Walker, 381 U.S. 618, 85 S.Ct. 1731, 14 L.Ed.2d 601, there would have been less doubt concerning the retroactivity of the Waller holding. For, until that time, both the common law and our own decisions recognized a general rule of retrospective effect for the constitutional decisions of this Court, e.g., Norton v. Shelby County, 118 U.S. 425, 442, 6 S.Ct. 1121, 1125, 30 L.Ed. 178 (1886), subject to limited exceptions of a nature such as those stated in Chicot County Drainage District v. Baxter State Bank, 308 U.S. 371, 60 S.Ct. 317, 84 L.Ed. 329 (1940). In Linkletter, the Court, declaring that it was charting new ground (381 U.S., at 628 and n. 13, 85 S.Ct., at 1737), held that with respect to new constitutional interpretations involving criminal rights 'the Constitution neither prohibits nor requires retrospective effect.' Id., at 629, 85 S.Ct., at 1737. Linkletter and succeeding cases established a set of factors for determining which constitutional rules were to be accorded retrospective and which prospective effect only.* The District Court and the Sixth Circuit in this case applied the factors enunciated by these cases to the Waller holding. The Sixth Circuit held, contrary to the conclusion of the District Court, that Waller is not to be applied retroactively.

We do not believe that this case readily lends itself to the analysis established in Linkletter. Certainly, there is nothing in Linkletter or those cases following it to indicate that all rules and constitutional interpretations arising under the first eight Amendments must be subjected to the analysis there enunciated. Linkletter itself announced an exception to the general rule of retroa- ctivity in a decision announcing that the exclusionary rule of Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, 81 S.Ct. 1684, 6 L.Ed.2d 1081 (1961), would be given prospective effect only. Linkletter, and the other cases relied upon by the Sixth Circuit, dealt with those constitutional interpretations bearing on the use of evidence or on a particular mode of trial. Those procedural rights and methods of conducting trials, however, do not encompass all of the rights found in the first eight Amendments. Guarantees that do not relate to these procedural rules cannot, for retroactivity purposes, be lumped conveniently together in terms of analysis. For the purpose and effect of the various constitutional guarantees vary sufficiently among themselves so as to affect the necessity for prospective rather than retrospective application.

Linkletter indicated, for instance, that only those procedural rules affecting 'the very integrity of the factfinding process' would be given retrospective effect. 381 U.S., at 639, 85 S.Ct., at 1743. In terms of some nonprocedural guarantees, this test is simply not appropriate. In Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238, 92 S.Ct. 2726, 33 L.Ed.2d 346 (1972), for example, this Court held that in the situation there presented imposition of the death penalty was not constitutionally permissible. Yet, while this holding does not affect the integrity of the factfinding process, we have not hesitated to apply it retrospectively without regard to whether the rule meets the Linkletter criteria. E.g., Walker v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 936, 92 S.Ct. 2845, 33 L.Ed.2d 753.

The prohibition against being placed in double jeopardy is likewise not readily susceptible of analysis under the Linkletter line of cases. Although the Court has not handed down a fully reasoned opinion on the retroactivity of Benton v. Maryland, it has indicated that it is retroactive without examination of the Linkletter criteria. North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711, 89 S.Ct. 2072, 23 L.Ed.2d 656 (1969); Ashe v. Swenson, 397 U.S. 436, 437 n. 1, 90 S.Ct. 1189, 1191, 25 L.Ed.2d 469 (1970). These decisions do not directly control the question of whether Waller should be given retrospective effect but they bear upon its disposition.

The guarantee against double jeopardy is significantly different from procedural guarantees held in the Linkletter line of cases to have prospective effect only. While this guarantee, like the others, is a constitutional right of the criminal defendant, its practical result is to prevent a trial from taking place at all, rather than to prescribe procedural rules that govern the conduct of a trial. A number of the constitutional rules applied prospectively only under the Linkletter cases were found not to affect the basic fairness of the earlier trial, but to have been directed instead to collateral purposes such as the deterrence of unlawful police conduct, Mapp v. Ohio, supra. In Waller, however, the Court's ruling was squarely directed to the prevention of the second trial's taking place at all, even though it might have been conducted with a scrupulous regard...

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