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Beard v. Banks

Supreme Court of the United States

February 24, 2004, Argued ; June 24, 2004, Decided

No. 02-1603


 [*408]   [**2508]  Justice Thomas delivered the opinion of the Court.

LEdHN[1A][] [1A] LEdHN[2A][] [2A] In Mills v. Maryland, 486 U.S. 367, 100 L. Ed. 2d 384, 108 S. Ct. 1860 (1988), [****6]  and McKoy v. North Carolina, 494 U.S. 433, 108 L. Ed. 2d 369, 110 S. Ct. 1227 (1990), this Court held invalid capital sentencing schemes that require juries to disregard mitigating factors not found unanimously. In this case, we must determine whether the rule announced in Mills and McKoy can be applied on federal habeas corpus review to a defendant whose conviction became final in 1987. Under our retroactivity  [***501]  analysis as set forth in Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288, 103 L. Ed. 2d 334, 109 S. Ct. 1060 (1989), federal habeas corpus petitioners may not avail themselves of new rules of criminal procedure outside two narrow exceptions.  We conclude that Mills announced a new rule that does not fall within either of Teague's exceptions.

LEdHN[3A][] [3A] More than 20 years ago, a jury convicted respondent, George Banks, of 12 counts of first-degree murder, and the trial court sentenced him to death. The facts of this case are set forth in detail in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's decision affirming respondent's conviction and sentence on direct review.  See Commonwealth v. Banks, 513 Pa. 318, 521 A.2d 1 (1987).  Direct review ended when this Court denied certiorari on October 5, 1987. Banks v. Pennsylvania, 484 U.S. 873, 98 L. Ed. 2d 162, 108 S. Ct. 211.  [****7]  Approximately eight months later, this Court handed down its decision in Mills, supra, which announced that the Constitution forbids States from imposing  [*409]  a requirement that the jury find a potential mitigating factor unanimously [**2509]  before that factor may be considered in the sentencing decision.

Respondent pursued state postconviction relief on the theory that the instructions and verdict form given to the jury in his case violated the Mills principle, but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected this claim on the merits.  See Commonwealth v. Banks, 540 Pa. 143, 656 A.2d 467 (1995). Respondent then turned to the federal courts.  Although the District Court denied relief, Banks v. Horn, 63 F. Supp. 2d 525 (MD Pa. 1999), the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed respondent's death sentence, Banks v. Horn, 271 F.3d 527 (2001).  In reaching its decision, the Court of Appeals declined to apply the retroactivity analysis set forth in Teague v Lane, supra, to the question whether Mills applied retroactively to respondent. This was not necessary, in the Court of Appeals' view, because [****8]  the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had itself applied Mills. 271 F.3d at 543.  We summarily reversed, holding that "in addition to performing any analysis required by AEDPA [the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996], a federal court considering a habeas petition must conduct a threshold Teague analysis when the issue is properly raised by the state." Horn v. Banks, 536 U.S. 266, 272, 153 L. Ed. 2d 301, 122 S. Ct. 2147 (2002) (per curiam) (Banks I).

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542 U.S. 406 *; 124 S. Ct. 2504 **; 159 L. Ed. 2d 494 ***; 2004 U.S. LEXIS 4572 ****; 72 U.S.L.W. 4578; 17 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 442


Subsequent History: Related proceeding at Commonwealth v. Banks, 596 Pa. 297, 943 A.2d 230, 2007 Pa. LEXIS 2929 (Pa., Dec. 28, 2007)


Banks v. Horn, 316 F.3d 228, 2003 U.S. App. LEXIS 525 (3d Cir. Pa., 2003)

Disposition: Reversed and remanded.

sentencing, jurors, jurists, mitigating evidence, new rule, Appeals, death sentence, announced, retroactively, cases, instructions, criminal procedure, courts, mitigating circumstances, mitigating factors, unanimously, accuracy, unanimity requirement, individual juror, death penalty, line of cases, capital case, verdict form, collateral, lawyers, falls

Criminal Law & Procedure, Procedural Defenses, Retroactivity of Decisions, General Overview, Governments, Courts, Judicial Precedent, Appeals, Procedural Matters, Time Limitations, Sentencing, Capital Punishment, Nonretroactive Treatment, Teague Rule, Retroactive Treatment, Teague Exceptions, Trials, Verdicts, Unanimity, Mitigating Circumstances, Cruel & Unusual Punishment