Wednesday, June 02, 2010

"Clearly Established Federal Law" is Determined as of the Date of the Relevant State-Court Decision Subject to Habeas Review

Greene v. Palakovich, No. 07-2163 (3d Cir. May 28, 2010). A split panel of the Third Circuit held that for purposes of the standard of review for a federal habeas claim set forth in AEDPA, 28 U.S.C. §2254(d)(1), "clearly established Federal law" should be determined as of the date of the relevant state-court decision subject to habeas review. Greene was convicted of second degree murder, robbery and conspiracy and sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal to the Pennsylvania Superior Court, Green argued, inter alia, that the admission at trial of redacted statements of his co-defendants violated the Confrontation Clause. The Superior Court rejected that claim in a decision dated December 16, 1997. That decision became the final state court decision for purposes of habeas review. Greene’s conviction became final on July 28, 1999. In the meantime, however, the Supreme Court decided Gray v. Maryland, 523 U.S. 185 (1998), on March 9, 1998, which supported Greene’s claim. The issue before the Third Circuit was whether the Gray case was to be considered "clearly established Federal law." The court held that it was not because the relevant state court decision was issued before Gray. One judge dissented opining that the relevant time frame should be the time that the conviction became final.

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