Criminal Procedure -- Habeas Corpus -- Ninth Circuit Holds That the Supreme Court's Decision in Ring v Arizona Applies Retroactively to Cases on Habeas Corpus Review -- Summerlin v Stewart, 341 F3d 1082 (9th Cir 2003) (En Banc)
8 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2013 Last revised: 15 Oct 2013
Date Written: February 1, 2004
In Ring v. Arizona, the Supreme Court held that the Sixth Amendment requires a jury, not a judge, to find the aggravating factors necessary to impose a capital sentence. Recently, in Summerlin v. Stewart, an en banc panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that Ring announced a substantive rule that applies retroactively to cases on federal habeas review -- a judgment that directly conflicts with the Eleventh Circuit's decision in Turner v. Crosby. Although the Summerlin court reached the right result, it relied on tenuous distinctions between procedural and substantive law, as well as ambiguous studies about the differences between jury and judge fact-finding. Instead, the court should have based its decision solely on the Supreme Court's continuous emphasis on the jury's important role in expressing the moral judgment of the community in capital cases.
Keywords: capital punishment, fact-finding, procedural, substantive, retroactivity, harmless error, Summerlin v. Stewart, Ring v. Arizona, Apprendi v. New Jersey, Teague v. Lane
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation