- Court: United States Supreme Court
- Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
- Date Filed: January 7, 2019
- Case #: 18-56
- Judge(s)/Court Below: Per Curiam
- Full Text Opinion
Respondent was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 1986 and filed a federal habeas petition under 28 U.S.C. §2254. Respondent argued that under Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002), his death sentence was illegal, as the Eighth Amendment prohibits the imposition of the death sentence upon intellectually disabled defendants. The district court denied the petition, but the Sixth Circuit reversed and remanded, finding that Respondent’s adaptive strengths, as found by the Ohio courts, were overly emphasized, relying upon the application of Atkins in Moore v. Texas, 581 U.S. ___ , (2017) in its decision. Petitioners filed for certiorari, arguing that the Sixth Circuit had violated §2254(d)(1) by applying Moore, which was decided after Respondent’s conviction and appeals. The Court vacated the decision of the lower court and remanded, holding that under §2254(d)(1), habeas relief may be granted only if a state court’s decision was in direct violation of or it unreasonably interpreted Supreme Court precedent which was “clearly established” at the time of adjudication. The Court reasoned that due to the Sixth Circuit’s reliance upon the Moore decision, it had not applied the “clearly established” law which was in place at the time of state adjudication of Respondent’s claim. VACATED AND REMANDED.