Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3 (2002) (per curiam)

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on petition for writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit

No. 01-1765. Decided November 4, 2002

A California jury convicted respondent of, inter alia, murder and attempted murder. On direct appeal, the State Court of Appeal rejected his claim that the trial judge coerced his deadlocked jury into continuing deliberations. The Federal District Court dismissed respondent's subsequent federal habeas petition but granted a certificate of appealability on the question whether the state trial judge violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights by coercing the jury into rendering a verdict. The Ninth Circuit reversed on that ground and instructed the District Court to grant the writ.

Held: The Ninth Circuit's decision exceeds the limits imposed on federal habeas review by 28 U. S. C. 2254(d), which forecloses habeas relief on any claim adjudicated on the merits in state-court proceedings unless the adjudication of the claim resulted in a decision that (1) was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States, or (2) was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state-court proceedings. The Ninth Circuit erred in believing that a state court's "failure to cite" controlling Supreme Court precedent renders its decision "contrary to" clearly established federal law. Awareness of this Court's cases is not even required, so long as neither the reasoning nor the result of the state-court decision contradicts them. The Ninth Circuit also erred in charging that the Court of Appeal did not apply the totality-of-the-circumstances test required by Lowenfield v. Phelps, 484 U. S. 231. Finally, the Ninth Circuit erred in finding our holdings in Jenkins v. United States, 380 U. S. 445 (per curiam), and United States v. United States Gypsum Co., 438 U. S. 422, which were based on the Court's supervisory power over the federal courts and not on constitutional grounds, applicable to state-court proceedings. Because the Ninth Circuit erroneously found that the State Court of Appeal's decision was contrary to clearly established Supreme Court law, and because it is at least reasonable to conclude that there was no jury coercion here, the State Court of Appeal's determination to that effect must stand.

Certiorari granted; 291 F. 3d 569, reversed.


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