Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320 (1997)

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certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the seventh circuit

No. 96-6298. Argued April 14, 1997—Decided June 23, 1997

Wisconsin tried petitioner Lindh on noncapital murder and attempted murder charges. In response to his insanity defense, the State called a psychiatrist who had examined Lindh but who had come under criminal investigation for sexual exploitation of patients before the trial began. Lindh's attempt to question the doctor about that investigation in hopes of showing the doctor's interest in currying favor with the State was barred by the trial court, and Lindh was convicted. He was denied relief on his direct appeal, in which he claimed a violation of the Confrontation Clause. He raised that claim again in a federal habeas corpus application, which was denied, and he promptly appealed. Shortly after oral argument before the Seventh Circuit, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (Act) amended the federal habeas statute. Following an en banc rehearing to consider the Act's impact, the court held that the amendments to chapter 153 of Title 28, which governs all habeas proceedings, generally apply to cases pending on the date of enactment; that applying the new version of 28 U. S. C. § 2254(d)—which governs standards affecting entitlement to relief—to pending cases would not have a retroactive effect barring its application under Landgraf v. USI Film Products, 511 U. S. 244, because it would not attach new legal consequences to events preceding enactment; and that the statute applied to Lindh's case.

Held: Since the new provisions of chapter 153 generally apply only to cases filed after the Act became effective, they do not apply to pending noncapital cases such as Lindh's. Pp. 324-337. (a) Wisconsin errs in arguing that whenever a new statute on its face could apply to the litigation of events preceding enactment, there are only two alternative sources of rules to determine its ultimate temporal reach: either Congress's express command or application of the Land-graf default rule governing retroactivity. Normal rules of construction apply in determining a statute's temporal reach generally and whether a statute's terms would produce a retroactive effect. Although Land-graf's rule would deny application when a retroactive effect would otherwise result, other construction rules may apply to remove even the possibility of retroactivity (as by rendering the statutory provision

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