Schriro v. Summerlin

Schriro v. Summerlin

Supreme Court of the United States

April 19, 2004, Argued ; June 24, 2004, Decided

No. 03-526


 [*349]   [**2521]  Justice Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court.

LEdHN[1A][] [1A] In this case, we decide whether Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584, 153 L. Ed. 2d 556, 122 S. Ct. 2428 (2002), applies retroactively to cases already final on direct review.

 [*350]  I

In April 1981, Finance America employee Brenna Bailey disappeared while on a house call to discuss an outstanding debt with respondent Warren Summerlin's wife. That evening, an anonymous woman (later identified as respondent's mother-in-law) called the police and accused respondent of murdering Bailey. Bailey's partially nude body, her skull crushed, was found the next morning in the trunk of her car, wrapped in a bedspread from respondent's home. Police arrested [****4]  respondent and later overheard him make incriminating remarks to his wife.

Respondent was convicted of first-degree murder and sexual assault. Arizona's capital sentencing provisions in effect at the time authorized the death penalty if one of several enumerated aggravating factors was present. See Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 13-703(E), (F) (West 1978), as amended by Act of May 1, 1979 Ariz. Sess. Laws ch. 144. Whether those aggravating factors existed, however, was determined by the trial judge rather than by a jury. § 13-703(B). In this case the judge, after a hearing, found two aggravating factors: a prior felony conviction involving use or threatened use of violence, § 13-703(F)(2), and commission of the offense in an especially heinous, cruel, or depraved manner, § 13-703(F)(6).  Finding no mitigating factors, the judge imposed the death sentence. The Arizona Supreme Court affirmed on direct review. State v. Summerlin, 138 Ariz. 426, 675 P.2d 686 (1983).

Protracted state and federal habeas proceedings followed.  While respondent's [**2522]  case was pending in the Ninth Circuit, we decided Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 147 L. Ed. 2d 435, 120 S. Ct. 2348 (2000), and Ring v. Arizona, supra.  [****5]  In Apprendi, we interpreted the constitutional due-process and jury-trial guarantees to require that, "[o]ther than the fact of a prior conviction, any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum must be submitted to a jury, and proved beyond a reasonable doubt." 530 U.S., at 490, 147 L. Ed. 2d 435, 120 S. Ct. 2348.  In  [*351]  Ring, we applied  [***448]  this principle to a death sentence imposed under the Arizona sentencing scheme at issue here. We concluded that, because Arizona law authorized the death penalty only if an aggravating factor was present, Apprendi required the existence of such a factor to be proved to a jury rather than to a judge. 536 U.S., at 603-609, 153 L. Ed. 2d 556, 122 S. Ct. 2428. 1 We specifically overruled our earlier decision in Walton v. Arizona, 497 U.S. 639, 111 L. Ed. 2d 511, 110 S. Ct. 3047 (1990), which had upheld an Arizona death sentence against a similar challenge. 536 U.S., at 609, 153 L. Ed. 2d 556, 122 S. Ct. 2428.

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542 U.S. 348 *; 124 S. Ct. 2519 **; 159 L. Ed. 2d 442 ***; 2004 U.S. LEXIS 4574 ****; 72 U.S.L.W. 4561; 17 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 425


Subsequent History:  [****1] On remand at, Remanded by Summerlin v. Schriro, 427 F.3d 623, 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 22316 (9th Cir., Oct. 17, 2005)


Summerlin v. Stewart, 341 F.3d 1082, 2003 U.S. App. LEXIS 18111 (9th Cir. Ariz., 2003)

Disposition: Reversed and remanded.

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Criminal Law & Procedure, Procedural Defenses, Retroactivity of Decisions, General Overview, Governments, Courts, Judicial Precedent, Legislation, Effect & Operation, Retrospective Operation, Civil Procedure, Preliminary Considerations, Federal & State Interrelationships, Erie Doctrine, Juries & Jurors, Province of Court & Jury, Judicial Officers, Judges, Defendant's Rights, Right to Jury Trial, Trials, Jury Trials, Right to Jury Trial, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Criminal Process