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Brown v. Payton

Docket No.: 03-1039
Certiorari Granted: May 24 2004
Argued: November 10, 2004
Decided: March 22, 2005

Topics:

28 USC 2241-2255 (habeas corpus), Criminal Procedure, Cruel and Unusual Punishment, Death Penalty, Article I, Civil Procedure, Death Penalty, Eighth Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, Medicaid, antitrust, capital murder, habeas, habeas corpus, harmless error, ineffective assistance of counsel, murder, sentencing guidelines

PartyNames: Jill L. Brown, Warden v. William Charles Payton
Petitioner: Jill L. Brown, Warden
Respondent: William Charles Payton

Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Citation: 346 F3d 1204
Supreme Court Docket

Jill L. Brown, Warden
v.
William Charles Payton
544 U.S. 133 (2005)
Background:

In Boyde v. California, 494 U.S. 370 (1990), this Court upheld the constitutionality of California's "catch-all" mitigation instruction in capital cases, which directs a jury to consider "any other circumstance which extenuates the gravity of the crime even though it is not a legal excuse for the crime." The mitigating evidence at issue in Boyde was pre-crime evidence in mitigation. Relying on Boyde, the California Supreme Court held that California's "catch-all" mitigation instruction in this capital case is constitutional as applied to post-crime evidence in mitigation. In a 6-5 decision, the en banc Ninth Circuit held that the California Supreme Court decision was objectively unreasonable "because Boyde does not control this case."

Question Presented:

Did the Ninth Circuit violate 28 U .S.C. ยง 2254 (d) when it found the California Supreme Court objectively unreasonable in holding that California's "catch-all" mitigation instruction in capital cases is constitutional as applied to post-crime evidence in mitigation?

Question:

Was the 9th Circuit correct to rule the California Supreme Court objectively unreasonable in holding that California's "catch-all" mitigation instruction in capital cases is constitutional as applied to post-crime evidence in mitigation?

Brown v. Payton
ORAL ARGUMENT

November 10, 2004

Holding: reversed
Decision: Decision: 5 votes for Brown, 3 vote(s) against
Vote: 5-3
Recused: Chief Justice Robert
Opinion By: Justice Anthony M. Kennedy

Brown v. Payton
Case Documents

1Slip Opinion in Brown v. Payton
2Opinion in Brown v. Payton
3Opinion in Brown v. Payton
Additional documents for this case are pending review.