Oral argument: Oct. 11, 2011
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (May 28, 2010)
Petitioner Eric Greene was accused of participating in a grocery store robbery that left the storeowner dead. Greene argues that statements made by non-testifying co-defendants improperly implicated him, because the trial court redacted co-defendant statements by replacing references to Greene with blanks or neutral pronouns. While Greene awaited appeal, the Supreme Court decided Gray v. Maryland, which held that obvious redactions of the kind in Greene’s case do not sufficiently protect the accused. Based on this development, Greene petitioned for habeas relief. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit denied relief, reasoning that Section 2254(d) of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act does not apply because Gray was not “clearly established Federal law” during Greene’s trial. Greene argues under Teague v. Lane that habeas petitioners benefit from any Supreme Court decision handed down before their convictions become final. Respondent Jon Fisher argues that the phrase “clearly established” precludes re-litigation of issues settled by state courts unless the state’s decision was unreasonable in light of law existing when the decision was handed down. The Supreme Court’s decision in this case will address the meaning of “clearly established federal law,” posing broad implications for future and ongoing habeas petitions.