Horn v. Banks, 536 U.S. 266, 4 (2002) (per curiam)

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Cite as: 536 U. S. 266 (2002)

Per Curiam

findings as to mitigating circumstances must be unanimous." 540 Pa., at 149, 656 A. 2d, at 470. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected his claim: "[B]oth the verbal instructions given by the court as well as the instructions printed on the verdict slips were correct and not impermissibly suggestive of a unanimity requirement with respect to mitigating circumstances." Id., at 153, 656 A. 2d, at 471.

Respondent petitioned for federal habeas relief, which the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania denied. 63 F. Supp. 2d 525 (1999). The District Court rejected respondent's Mills claim on the merits, applying the AEDPA standard of review articulated in 28 U. S. C. 2254(d): "Supreme Court precedent . . . did not require an outcome contrary to that reached by the state courts." 63 F. Supp. 2d, at 544. Because the court found the AEDPA standard of review dispositive, it did "not address the parties' arguments concerning the retroactivity of Mills." Ibid.

The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed the District Court in part, granting respondent relief from his death sentence under Mills. The Court of Appeals first asked: "Are we compelled to conduct a retroactivity analysis under Teague?" 271 F. 3d, at 541. It recognized that, per Teague, retroactivity is a " 'threshold question,' " but it found "Teague not to govern [its] analysis" in this case because "we do not need to focus on anything other than the reasoning and determination of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court," which had not ruled on retroactivity. 271 F. 3d, at 541, and n. 13.3 It rejected petitioners' contention that the state court's failure to rule on retroactivity was irrelevant to whether Teague should apply in federal court:

3 In deciding not to conduct a Teague analysis, the Court of Appeals "acknowledge[d] further that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has specifically noted its skepticism regarding the retroactive application of Mills" and has disagreed with the Court of Appeals' resolution of Mills claims similar to respondent's. 271 F. 3d, at 542.

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