|SCHRIRO V. SUMMERLIN (03-526) 542 U.S. 348 (2004)
341 F.3d 1082, reversed and remanded.
[ Scalia ]
[ Breyer ]
DORA B. SCHRIRO, DIRECTOR, ARIZONA
MENT OF CORRECTIONS, PETITIONER v.
ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
[June 24, 2004]
Justice Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court.
In this case, we decide whether Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002), applies retroactively to cases already final on direct review.
In April 1981, Finance America employee Brenna Bailey disappeared while on a house call to discuss an outstanding debt with respondent Warren Summerlins wife. That evening, an anonymous woman (later identified as respondents mother-in-law) called the police and accused respondent of murdering Bailey. Baileys partially nude body, her skull crushed, was found the next morning in the trunk of her car, wrapped in a bedspread from respondents home. Police arrested respondent and later overheard him make incriminating remarks to his wife.
Respondent was convicted of first-degree murder and sexual assault. Arizonas capital sentencing provisions in effect at the time authorized the death penalty if one of several enumerated aggravating factors was present. See Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§13703(E), (F) (West 1978), as amended by Act of May 1, 1979 Ariz. Sess. Laws ch. 144. Whether those aggravating factors existed, however, was determined by the trial judge rather than by a jury. §13703(B). In this case the judge, after a hearing, found two aggravating factors: a prior felony conviction involving use or threatened use of violence, §13703(F)(2), and commission of the offense in an especially heinous, cruel, or depraved manner, §13703(F)(6). Finding no mitigating factors, the judge imposed the death sentence. The Arizona Supreme Court affirmed on direct review. State v. Summerlin, 138 Ariz. 426, 675 P.2d 686 (1983).
Protracted state and federal habeas proceedings followed. While respondents case was pending in the Ninth Circuit, we decided Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), and Ring v. Arizona, supra. In Apprendi, we interpreted the constitutional due-process and jury-trial guarantees to require that, [o]ther than the fact of a prior conviction, any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum must be submitted to a jury, and proved beyond a reasonable doubt. 530 U.S., at 490. In Ring, we applied this principle to a death sentence imposed under the Arizona sentencing scheme at issue here. We concluded that, because Arizona law authorized the death penalty only if an aggravating factor was present, Apprendi required the existence of such a factor to be proved to a jury rather than to a judge. 536 U.S., at 603609.1 We specifically overruled our earlier decision in Walton v. Arizona, 497 U.S. 639 (1990), which had upheld an Arizona death sentence against a similar challenge. 536 U.S., at 609.
The Ninth Circuit, relying on Ring, invalidated respondents death sentence. Summerlin v. Stewart, 341 F.3d 1082, 1121 (2003) (en banc).2 It rejected the argument that Ring did not apply because respondents conviction and sentence had become final on direct review before Ring was decided. We granted certiorari. 540 U.S. 1045 (2003).3
When a decision of this Court results
in a new rule, that rule applies to all criminal
cases still pending on direct review. Griffith v.
U.S. 314, 328 (1987). As to convictions that are already
final, however, the rule applies only in limited circumstances.
New substantive rules generally apply retroactively.
This includes decisions that narrow the scope of a criminal
statute by interpreting its terms, see Bousley v.
United States, 523 U.S. 614,
620621 (1998), as well as constitutional determinations
that place particular conduct or persons covered by the statute
beyond the States power to punish, see Saffle v.
Parks, 494 U.S.
484, 494495 (1990); Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288, 311
(1989) (plurality opinion).4 Such rules apply retroactively because they
necessarily carry a significant risk that a defendant
stands convicted of an act that the law does not make
New rules of procedure, on the other
hand, generally do not apply retroactively. They do not
produce a class of persons convicted of conduct the law does
not make criminal, but merely raise the possibility that
someone convicted with use of the invalidated procedure might
have been acquitted otherwise. Because of this more
speculative connection to innocence, we give retroactive effect
to only a small set of
The Ninth Circuit agreed with the State that Ring announced a new rule. 341 F.3d, at 11081109. It nevertheless applied the rule retroactively to respondents case, relying on two alternative theories: first, that it was substantive rather than procedural; and second, that it was a watershed procedural rule entitled to retroactive effect. We consider each theory in turn.
A rule is substantive rather than procedural if it alters the range of conduct or the class of persons that the law punishes. See Bousley, supra, at 620621 (rule hold[s] that a statute does not reach certain conduct or make[s] conduct criminal); Saffle, supra, at 495 (rule decriminalize[s] a class of conduct [or] prohibit[s] the imposition of punishment on a particular class of persons). In contrast, rules that regulate only the manner of determining the defendants culpability are procedural. See Bousley, supra, at 620.
Judged by this standard, Rings holding is properly classified as procedural. Ring held that a sentencing judge, sitting without a jury, [may not] find an aggravating circumstance necessary for imposition of the death penalty. 536 U.S., at 609. Rather, the Sixth Amendment requires that [those circumstances] be found by a jury. Ibid. This holding did not alter the range of conduct Arizona law subjected to the death penalty. It could not have; it rested entirely on the Sixth Amendments jury-trial guarantee, a provision that has nothing to do with the range of conduct a State may criminalize. Instead, Ring altered the range of permissible methods for determining whether a defendants conduct is punishable by death, requiring that a jury rather than a judge find the essential facts bearing on punishment. Rules that allocate decisionmaking authority in this fashion are prototypical procedural rules, a conclusion we have reached in numerous other contexts. See Gasperini v. Center for Humanities, Inc., 518 U.S. 415, 426 (1996) (Erie doctrine); Landgraf v. USI Film Products, 511 U.S. 244, 280281 (1994) (antiretroactivity presumption); Dobbert v. Florida, 432 U.S. 282, 293294 (1977) (Ex Post Facto Clause).
Respondent nevertheless argues that
Ring is substantive because it modified the elements of
the offense for which he was convicted. He relies on our
statement in Ring that, [b]ecause Arizonas
enumerated aggravating factors operate as the functional
equivalent of an element of a greater offense, the Sixth Amendment
requires that they be found by a jury.
A decision that modifies the elements of an offense is normally substantive rather than procedural. New elements alter the range of conduct the statute punishes, rendering some formerly unlawful conduct lawful or vice versa. See Bousley, 523 U.S., at 620621. But that is not what Ring did; the range of conduct punished by death in Arizona was the same before Ring as after. Ring held that, because Arizonas statutory aggravators restricted (as a matter of state law) the class of death-eligible defendants, those aggravators effectively were elements for federal constitutional purposes, and so were subject to the procedural requirements the Constitution attaches to trial of elements. 536 U.S., at 609. This Courts holding that, because Arizona has made a certain fact essential to the death penalty, that fact must be found by a jury, is not the same as this Courts making a certain fact essential to the death penalty. The former was a procedural holding; the latter would be substantive. The Ninth Circuits conclusion that Ring nonetheless reshap[ed] the structure of Arizona murder law, 341 F.3d, at 1105, is particularly remarkable in the face of the Arizona Supreme Courts previous conclusion to the contrary. See State v. Towery, 204 Ariz. 386, 390391, 64 P.3d 828, 832833, cert. dismd, 539 U.S. 986 (2003).5
Respondent argues in the alternative
that Ring falls under the retroactivity exception for
The question here is not, however,
whether the Framers believed that juries are more accurate
factfinders than judges (perhaps sothey certainly thought
juries were more independent, see Blakely v.
Washington, ante, at ______ (slip op., at
912)). Nor is the question whether juries actually
are more accurate factfinders than judges (again,
perhaps so). Rather, the question is whether judicial
factfinding so seriously diminishe[s]
accuracy that there is an
First, for every argument why juries
are more accurate factfinders, there is another why they are
less accurate. The Ninth Circuit dissent noted several,
including juries tendency to become confused over legal
standards and to be influenced by emotion or philosophical
predisposition. 341 F.3d, at 11291131 (opinion of
Rawlinson, J.) (citing, inter alia, Eisenberg & Wells,
Deadly Confusion: Juror Instructions in Capital Cases, 79
Cornell L. Rev. 1 (1993); Garvey, The Emotional Economy of
Capital Sentencing, 75 N. Y. U. L. Rev. 26
(2000); and Bowers, Sandys, & Steiner, Foreclosed Impartiality
in Capital Sentencing: Jurors Predispositions,
Guilt-Trial Experience, and Premature Decision Making, 83
Cornell L. Rev. 1476 (1998)). Members of this Court have
opined that judicial sentencing may yield more consistent
results because of judges greater experience. See
Proffitt v. Florida, 428 U.S. 242, 252
(1976) (joint opinion of Stewart, Powell, and Stevens, JJ.).
Finally, the mixed reception that the right to jury trial has
been given in other countries, see Vidmar, The Jury Elsewhere
in the World, in World Jury Systems 421447 (N. Vidmar ed.
2000), though irrelevant to the meaning and continued existence
of that right under our Constitution, surely makes it
implausible that judicial factfinding so seriously
diminishe[s] accuracy as to produce an
Our decision in DeStefano v.
Woods, 392 U.S.
631 (1968) (per curiam), is on point. There we
refused to give retroactive effect to Duncan v.
U.S. 145 (1968), which applied the Sixth
Amendments jury-trial guarantee to the States. While
DeStefano was decided under our pre-Teague
retroactivity framework, its reasoning is germane. We noted
that, although the right to jury trial generally tends to
prevent arbitrariness and repression[,]
that every criminal trialor any
particular trialheld before a judge alone is unfair or
that a defendant may never be as fairly treated by a judge as
he would be by a jury.
The dissent contends that juries are more accurate because they better reflect community standards in deciding whether, for example, a murder was heinous, cruel, or depraved. Post, at 4 (opinion of Breyer, J.). But the statute here does not condition death eligibility on whether the offense is heinous, cruel, or depraved as determined by community standards. See Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §13703(F)(6) (West 1978). It is easy to find enhanced accuracy in jury determination when one redefines the statutes substantive scope in such manner as to ensure that result. The dissent also advances several variations on the theme that death is different (or rather, dramatically different, post, at 6). Much of this analysis is not an application of Teague, but a rejection of it, in favor of a broader endeavor to balance competing considerations, post, at 4. Even were we inclined to revisit Teague in this fashion, we would not agree with the dissents conclusions. Finally, the dissent notes that, in DeStefano, we considered factors other than enhanced accuracy that are no longer relevant after Teague. See post, at 8. But we held in that case that [a]ll three factors favor only prospective application of the rule. 392 U.S., at 633 (emphasis added). Thus, the result would have been the same even if enhanced accuracy were the sole criterion for retroactivity.6
The right to jury trial is fundamental to our system of criminal procedure, and States are bound to enforce the Sixth Amendments guarantees as we interpret them. But it does not follow that, when a criminal defendant has had a full trial and one round of appeals in which the State faithfully applied the Constitution as we understood it at the time, he may nevertheless continue to litigate his claims indefinitely in hopes that we will one day have a change of heart. Ring announced a new procedural rule that does not apply retroactively to cases already final on direct review. The contrary judgment of the Ninth Circuit is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.
1. Because Arizona law already required aggravating factors to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, see State v. Jordan, 126 Ariz. 283, 286, 614 P.2d 825, 828, cert. denied, 449 U.S. 986 (1980), that aspect of Apprendi was not at issue.
2. Because respondent filed his habeas petition before the effective date of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, 110 Stat. 1214, the provisions of that Act do not apply. See Lindh v. Murphy, 521 U.S. 320, 336337 (1997).
3. The State also sought certiorari on the ground that there was no Apprendi violation because the prior-conviction aggravator, exempt from Apprendi under Almendarez-Torres v. United States, 523 U.S. 224 (1998), was sufficient standing alone to authorize the death penalty. We denied certiorari on that issue, 540 U.S. 1045 (2003), and express no opinion on it.
4. We have sometimes referred to rules of this latter type as falling under an exception to Teagues bar on retroactive application of procedural rules, see, e.g., Horn v. Banks, 536 U.S. 266, 271, and n. 5 (2002) (per curiam); they are more accurately characterized as substantive rules not subject to the bar.
5. Respondent also argues that Ring was substantive because our understanding of Arizona law changed. Compare Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584, 602603 (2002), with Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 496497 (2000). Even if our understanding of state law changed, however, the actual content of state law did not. See State v. Ring, 200 Ariz. 267, 279, 25 P.3d 1139, 1151 (2001), revd on other grounds, 536 U.S. 584 (2002); State v. Gretzler, 135 Ariz. 42, 54, 659 P.2d 1, 13, cert. denied, 461 U.S. 971 (1983); Johnson v. Fankell, 520 U.S. 911, 916 (1997).
6. The dissent distinguishes DeStefano on the ground that this case involves only a small subclass of defendants deprived of jury trial rights, the relevant harm within that subclass is more widespread, the administration of justice problem is far less serious, and the reliance interest less weighty. Post, at 8. But the first, third, and fourth of these points are irrelevant under Teague, and the second, insofar as it relates to accuracy, is an unsubstantiated assertion. If jury trial significantly enhances accuracy, we would not have been able to hold as we did in DeStefano that the first factorprevent[ing] arbitrariness and repression, 392 U.S., at 633did not favor retroactivity.