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Teague v. Lane

    Brief Fact Summary. The petitioner, Teague (the “petitioner”) was convicted in an Illinois state court of attempted murder and other offenses. The prosecutor used all ten of his peremptory challenges to exclude blacks from the jury. The petitioner twice unsuccessfully moved for a mistrial arguing that he was entitled to a jury of his peers.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. An individual may not seek to enforce a new rule of law in federal habeas corpus proceedings if the new rule was announced after the petitioner’s conviction became final, or if the petitioner is seeking to establish a wholly new rule or to apply a settled precedent in a novel way that would result in the creation of a new rule.

    Facts. The petitioner, a black man, was convicted in an Illinois state court for three counts of attempted murder, two counts of armed robbery, and one count of aggravated battery by an all white jury. During jury selection, the prosecutor used all ten of his peremptory challenges to exclude blacks. The petitioner’s attorney used one of his ten challenges to exclude a black woman married to a police officer. The petitioner’s attorney moved for a mistrial after six blacks were struck, but the trial court denied the motion. Teague again moved for a mistrial after an additional four blacks were struck. The prosecutor defended the challenges by stating that he was trying to achieve a balance of men and women on the jury. The trial court again denied the motion.
    The petitioner appealed to the Illinois Appellate Court which rejected his claim that the challenges denied him the right to be tried by a jury representative of the community. The petitioner then filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in United States District Court (“District Court”) again arguing the fair cross section claim, and arguing that under Swain v. Alabama, a prosecutor could be questioned about his use of peremptory challenges once he volunteered an explanation. The District Court denied the Petitioner’s petition, but a panel of the Court of Appeals agreed that the fair cross section requirement applied to a petit jury, and held that there was a prima facie case of discrimination. The Court of Appeals voted to rehear the case, but postponed it until a decision in Batson v. Kentucky, which overruled a portion of Swain. After Batson was decided, the Court of Appeals held that the petitioner could not benefit from the rule retroactively, that his Swain claim was proc
    edurally barred, and the fair cross section claim was limited to jury venire.

    Issue. Is the petitioner prevented from benefiting from the rule in Batson since his conviction became final before Batson was decided?
    Is the petitioner procedurally barred from raising the Equal Protection Clause claim under Swain since he did not raise the claim at trial or on direct appeal?

    Held. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (“J. O’Connor”) delivered the opinion of the Court in regards to Parts I, II, and III. The Supreme Court of the United States (“Supreme Court”) held that the Petitioner was procedurally barred from benefiting from the Batson rule since his conviction was final before Batson was decided.
    Also, the Supreme Court held that the petitioner is barred from raising a claim that he has established a violation of the Equal Protection Clause under Swain because he did not raise the Swain claim at trial or on direct appeal.

    Dissent. Justice William Brennan (“J. Brennan”), joined by Justice Thurgood Marshall (“J. Marshall”), issued a dissenting opinion arguing that the Supreme Court should grant certiorari in another case raising the same issue and have a full briefing and oral argument. J. Brennan believes the Supreme Court’s decision will preclude federal courts from considering on collateral review a vast range of important constitutional challenges.
    Concurrence. Justice Byron White (“J. White”) issued a concurring opinion asserting that the result as to not applying the fair cross section rule retroactively is an acceptable application in collateral proceedings of the theories embraced by the Supreme Court in cases dealing with direct review.
    Justice Harry Blackmun (“J. Blackmun”) issued a brief concurrence noting that he concurs to a portion of Part I and concurs in the judgment.

    Justice John Paul Stevens (“J. Stevens”), joined by J. Blackmun, issued a concurrence stating that the petitioner did allege a Sixth Amendment violation, and the Supreme Court should decide that question in his favor, but disagrees that the conviction would be required to be set aside.


    Discussion. The Supreme Court decided that an individual may not seek to enforce a new rule of law in federal habeas corpus proceedings if the new rule was announced after the individual’s conviction became final, or if the individual is seeking to establish a wholly new rule or to apply a settled precedent in a novel way that would result in the creation of a new rule. The Supreme Court identified two exceptions: (1) rules prohibiting punishment for “private, primary individual conduct beyond the power of the criminal law-making authority to proscribe”; and (2) rules that are “implicit in the concept of ordered liber.


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