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Greene v. Fisher

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: October 11, 2011
Case #: 10-637
606 F.3d 85 (3d Cir. 2010)
Full Text Opinion: http://sblog.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/CA3-Opinion-Greene.pdf

Habeas Corpus: Whether a Supreme Court decision announced after a state intermediate court's decision, but before a state supreme court’s denial of discretionary review qualifies as “clearly established Federal law” under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).

During a joint trial with four co-defendants, Petitioner was found guilty of second-degree murder, three counts of robbery, and one count of conspiracy and was sentenced to life in prison. Petitioner unsuccessfully appealed, arguing his trial should have been severed from that of his co-defendants because some of his non-testifying co-defendants' redacted statements implicated and identified him.  Petitioner then filed  for a writ of habeas corpus  pursuant to 28 U.S.C.A. § 2254(d)(1), which in relevant portion states: "An application for a writ of habeas corpus... pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted... unless the adjudication of the claim... resulted in a decision that was contrary to... clearly established Federal law..."

In the lead case interpreting  § 2254, Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362 (2000), the Court issued a split plurality opinion stating the law must have been "clearly established" as determined by the "time of the relevant state-court decision" (O'Connor, J.) and by the "time [the] state-court conviction became final" (Stevens, J.). The Federal Magistrate Judge agreed with Justice O'Connor's view and held that Petitioner was barred from using any case-law from after the date of the State's court's decision. The Third Circuit Court affirmed and the Supreme Court granted cert to determine whether a Supreme Court decision announced after a state intermediate court's decision, but before a state supreme court's denial of discretionary review qualifies as "clearly established Federal law" under  § 2254.