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Beard v. Kindler

Docket No.: 08-992
Certiorari Granted: May 18 2009
Argued: November 2, 2009
Decided: December 8, 2009

PartyNames: Jeffrey A. Beard, Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, et al. v. Joseph J. Kindler
Petitioner: Jeffrey A. Beard, Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, et al.
Respondent: Joseph Kindler

Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Jeffrey A. Beard, Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, et al.
v.
Joseph Kindler
Question Presented:

After murdering a witness against him and receiving a sentence of death, respondent broke out of prison, twice. Prior to his recapture in Canada years later, the trial court exercised its discretion under state forfeiture law to dismiss respondent's post-verdict motions, resulting in default of most appellate claims. On federal habeas corpus review, the court of appeals refused to honor the state court's procedural bar, ruling that, because "the state court ... had discretion" in applying the rule, it was not "firmly established" and was therefore "inadequate." Is a state procedural rule automatically "inadequate" under the adequate-state-grounds doctrine - and therefore unenforceable on federal habeas corpus review - because the state rule is discretionary rather than mandatory?

Question:

Under the adequate-state-ground doctrine, does a state procedural rule like Pennsylvania's fugitive waiver rule preclude federal habeas corpus review even though the state procedural rule is discretionary?

Note:

JUSTICE ALITO TOOK NO PART.

Holding: vacated and remanded
Vote: 8-0
Recused: who
Read BEARD V. KINDLER opinion (PDF)