Texas v. Cullough, No. 84-1198

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBURGER, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which WHITE, POWELL, REHNQUIST, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. BRENNAN
Citation106 S.Ct. 976,475 U.S. 134,89 L.Ed.2d 104
Decision Date26 February 1986
Docket NumberNo. 84-1198
PartiesTEXAS, Petitioner v. Sanford James McCULLOUGH

475 U.S. 134
106 S.Ct. 976
89 L.Ed.2d 104
TEXAS, Petitioner

v.

Sanford James McCULLOUGH.

No. 84-1198.
Argued Dec. 10, 1985.
Decided Feb. 26, 1986.
Syllabus

Respondent was tried before a jury in a Texas District Court and convicted of murder. He elected to be sentenced by the jury, as was his right under Texas law, and the jury imposed a 20-year sentence. The trial judge then granted respondent's motion for a new trial on the basis of prosecutorial misconduct. Respondent was retried before a jury, with the same trial judge presiding, and again was found guilty. This time he elected to have the judge fix his sentence, and she imposed a 50-year sentence. To justify the longer sentence, the judge entered the following findings of fact: the testimony of two state witnesses who had not testified at the first trial added to the credibility of the State's key witness and detracted from the credibility of respondent and a defense witness; the two new witnesses' testimony directly implicated respondent in the commission of the murder and shed new light upon his life and conduct; and it was learned for the first time on retrial that respondent had been released from prison only four months before the murder. The Texas Court of Appeals reversed and sentenced respondent to 20 years' imprisonment, considering itself bound by North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711, 89 S.Ct. 2072, 23 L.Ed.2d 656, wherein it was held that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prevented increased sentences on retrial when the increase was motivated by the sentencing judge's vindictiveness, and that to show the absence of vindictiveness the reasons for imposing the increased sentence must affirmatively appear. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, while holding that, as a matter of procedure, the case should have been remanded to the trial judge for resentencing, also held that under Pearce vindictiveness must be presumed even though a jury had fixed punishment at the first trial and a judge had fixed it at the second trial.

Held: The Due Process Clause was not violated by the trial judge's imposition of a greater sentence on retrial. Pp. 137-144.

(a) The facts of this case provide no basis for a Pearce presumption of vindictiveness. In contrast to Pearce, respondent's second trial came about because the trial judge herself concluded that the prosecutor's misconduct required it. Granting respondent's motion for a new trial hardly suggests any vindictiveness on the judge's part toward him. The presumption is also inapplicable because different sentencers assessed the

Page 135

varying sentences, the second sentencer providing an on-the-record, logical, nonvindictive reason for the longer sentence. Pp. 141-144.

(b) Even if the Pearce presumption were to apply here, the trial judge's findings on imposing the longer sentence overcame that presumption. Those findings clearly constituted "objective information justifying the increased sentence," United States v. Goodwin, 457 U.S. 368, 375, 102 S.Ct. 2485, 2489, 73 L.Ed.2d 74. Pp. 141-144.

720 S.W.2d 89 (Tex.Cr.App.1983), reversed and remanded.

BURGER, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which WHITE, POWELL, REHNQUIST, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. BRENNAN, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, post, p. 144, MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BLACKMUN and STEVENS, JJ., joined, post, p. 145.

Randall L. Sherrod, Canyon, Tex., for petitioner.

Jeff Blackburn, Amarillo, Tex., for respondent, pro hac vice, by special leave of Court.

Chief Justice BURGER delivered the opinion of the Court.

We granted certiorari to decide whether the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment was violated when the defendant in a state court received a greater sentence on retrial where the earlier sentence was imposed by the jury, the trial judge granted the defendant's motion for a new trial, the defendant requested that in the second trial the judge fix the sentence, and the judge entered findings of fact justifying the longer sentence.

I

In 1980, Sanford James McCullough was tried before a jury in the Randall County, Texas, District Court and convicted of murder. McCullough elected to be sentenced by the jury, as

Page 136

was his right under Texas law. Tex.Code Crim.Proc.Ann., Art. 37.07 (Vernon 1981). The jury imposed a 20-year sentence. Judge Naomi Harney, the trial judge, then granted McCullough's motion for a new trial on the basis of prosecutorial misconduct.

Three months later, McCullough was retried before a jury, with Judge Harney again presiding. At this trial, the State presented testimony from two witnesses who had not testified at the first trial that McCullough rather than his accomplices had slashed the throat of the victim. McCullough was again found guilty by a jury. This time, he elected to have his sentence fixed by the trial judge. Judge Harney sentenced McCullough to 50 years in prison and, upon his motion, made findings of fact as to why the sentence was longer than that fixed by the jury in the first trial. She found that in fixing the sentence she relied on new evidence about the murder that was not presented at the first trial and hence never made known to the sentencing jury. The findings focused specifically on the testimony of two new witnesses, Carolyn Hollison McCullough and Willie Lee Brown, which "had a direct effect upon the strength of the State's case at both the guilt and punishment phases of the trial." App. to Pet. for Cert. A-23. In addition, Judge Harney explained that she learned for the first time on retrial McCullough had been released from prison only four months before the later crime had been committed. Ibid. Finally, the judge candidly stated that, had she fixed the first sentence, she would have imposed more than 20 years. Id., at A-24.1

On appeal, the Texas Court of Appeals reversed and resentenced McCullough to 20 years' imprisonment. 680 S.W.2d 493 (1983). That court considered itself bound by this Court's decision in North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711, 89 S.Ct. 2072, 23 L.Ed.2d 656 (1969), and held that a longer sentence upon retrial could be

Page 137

imposed only if it was based upon conduct of the defendant occurring after the original trial.2 Petitioner sought review in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, and that court limited its review to whether the Texas Court of Appeals had authority to limit respondent's sentence to 20 years. 720 S.W.2d 89 (1983). The court concluded that, as a matter of procedure, the case should have been remanded to the trial judge for resentencing. On petitioner's motion for rehearing, the court concluded that under Pearce vindictiveness must be presumed even though a jury had fixed punishment at the first trial and a judge had fixed it at the second trial. We granted certiorari. 472 U.S. 1007, 105 S.Ct. 2699, 86 L.Ed.2d 716 (1985). We reverse.

II

In North Carolina v. Pearce, supra, the Court placed a limitation on the power of a sentencing authority to increase a sentence after reconviction following a new trial. It held that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prevented increased sentences when that increase was motivated by vindictiveness on the part of the sentencing judge. The Court stated:

"Due process of law, then, requires that vindictiveness against a defendant for having successfully attacked his first conviction must play no part in the sentence he receives after a new trial. And since the fear of such vindictiveness may unconstitutionally deter a defendant's exercise of the right to appeal or collaterally attack his first conviction, due process also requires that a de-

Page 138

fendant be freed of apprehension of such a retaliatory motivation on the part of the sentencing judge.

"In order to assure the absence of such a motivation, we have concluded that whenever a judge imposes a more severe sentence upon a defendant after a new trial, the reasons for his doing so must affirmatively appear." Id., at 725-726, 89 S.Ct., at 2080-2081 (emphasis added).

Beyond doubt, vindictiveness of a sentencing judge is the evil the Court sought to prevent rather than simply enlarged sentences after a new trial. The Pearce requirements thus do not apply in every case where a convicted defendant receives a higher sentence on retrial. Like other "judicially created means of effectuating the rights secured by the [Constitution]," Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465, 482, 96 S.Ct. 3037, 3046, 49 L.Ed.2d 1067 (1976), we have restricted application of Pearce to areas where its "objectives are thought most efficaciously served," 428 U.S., at 487, 96 S.Ct., at 3049. Accordingly, in each case, we look to the need, under the circumstances, to "guard against vindictiveness in the resentencing process." Chaffin v. Stynchcombe, 412 U.S. 17, 25, 93 S.Ct. 1977, 1982, 36 L.Ed.2d 714 (1973) (emphasis omitted). For example, in Moon v. Maryland, 398 U.S. 319, 90 S.Ct. 1730, 26 L.Ed.2d 262 (1970), we held that Pearce did not apply when the defendant conceded and it was clear that vindictiveness had played no part in the enlarged sentence. In Colten v. Kentucky, 407 U.S. 104, 92 S.Ct. 1953, 32 L.Ed.2d 584 (1972), we saw no need for applying the presumption when the second court in a two-tier trial system imposed a longer sentence. In Chaffin, supra, we held Pearce not applicable where a jury imposed the increased sentence on retrial. Where the prophylactic rule of Pearce does not apply, the defendant may still obtain relief if he can show actual vindictiveness upon resentencing. Wasman v. United States, 468 U.S. 559, 569, 104 S.Ct. 3217, 3223, 82 L.Ed.2d 424 (1984).

The facts of this case provide no basis for a presumption of vindictiveness. In contrast to Pearce, McCullough's second trial came about because the trial judge herself concluded that the prosecutor's misconduct required it. Granting

Page 139

McCullough's motion for a new trial...

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486 practice notes
  • Izaguirre v. Lee, No. 10–CV–3216 (JFB).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • April 25, 2012
    ...purpose—a presumption that must be rebutted by “ ‘objective information ... justifying the increased sentence.’ ” Texas v. McCullough, 475 U.S. 134, 142, 106 S.Ct. 976, 89 L.Ed.2d 104 (1986) (quoting United States v. Goodwin, 457 U.S. 368, 374, 102 S.Ct. 2485, 73 L.Ed.2d 74 (1982)).Smith, 4......
  • U.S. v. Lominac, No. 96-4282
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • May 11, 1998
    ...798-802, 109 S.Ct. 2201, 2204-2206, 104 L.Ed.2d 865 (1989), and subsequent cases, see, e.g., Alabama v. Smith, supra; Texas v. McCullough, 475 U.S. 134, 137-44, 106 S.Ct. 976, 978-82, 89 L.Ed.2d 104 (1986); Chaffin v. Stynchcombe, 412 U.S. 17, 24-28, 93 S.Ct. 1977, 1981-83, 36 L.Ed.2d 714 (......
  • People v. Castello, No. D029126
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • July 31, 1998
    ...Cal.Rptr. 31; accord, Wright v. Superior Court (1997) 15 Cal.4th 521, 527, 63 Cal.Rptr.2d 322, 936 P.2d 101; Texas v. McCullough (1986) 475 U.S. 134, 144, 106 S.Ct. 976, 89 L.Ed.2d 104.) California courts have repeatedly held that when a defendant's criminal conduct has [65 Cal.App.4th 1251......
  • U.S. v. Vontsteen, No. 89-2745
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • August 17, 1990
    ...arises when the first sentence was based upon a guilty plea, and the second sentence follows a trial."); Texas v. McCullough, 475 U.S. 134, 140, 106 S.Ct. 976, 979, 89 L.Ed.2d 104 (1986) (The presumption does not apply when "different sentencers assessed varying sentences." The first senten......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
487 cases
  • Izaguirre v. Lee, No. 10–CV–3216 (JFB).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • April 25, 2012
    ...purpose—a presumption that must be rebutted by “ ‘objective information ... justifying the increased sentence.’ ” Texas v. McCullough, 475 U.S. 134, 142, 106 S.Ct. 976, 89 L.Ed.2d 104 (1986) (quoting United States v. Goodwin, 457 U.S. 368, 374, 102 S.Ct. 2485, 73 L.Ed.2d 74 (1982)).Smith, 4......
  • U.S. v. Lominac, No. 96-4282
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • May 11, 1998
    ...798-802, 109 S.Ct. 2201, 2204-2206, 104 L.Ed.2d 865 (1989), and subsequent cases, see, e.g., Alabama v. Smith, supra; Texas v. McCullough, 475 U.S. 134, 137-44, 106 S.Ct. 976, 978-82, 89 L.Ed.2d 104 (1986); Chaffin v. Stynchcombe, 412 U.S. 17, 24-28, 93 S.Ct. 1977, 1981-83, 36 L.Ed.2d 714 (......
  • People v. Castello, No. D029126
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • July 31, 1998
    ...Cal.Rptr. 31; accord, Wright v. Superior Court (1997) 15 Cal.4th 521, 527, 63 Cal.Rptr.2d 322, 936 P.2d 101; Texas v. McCullough (1986) 475 U.S. 134, 144, 106 S.Ct. 976, 89 L.Ed.2d 104.) California courts have repeatedly held that when a defendant's criminal conduct has [65 Cal.App.4th 1251......
  • U.S. v. Vontsteen, No. 89-2745
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • August 17, 1990
    ...arises when the first sentence was based upon a guilty plea, and the second sentence follows a trial."); Texas v. McCullough, 475 U.S. 134, 140, 106 S.Ct. 976, 979, 89 L.Ed.2d 104 (1986) (The presumption does not apply when "different sentencers assessed varying sentences." The first senten......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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