Schiro v. Summerlin
Summerlin was convicted of murder and sexual assault and sentenced to death. After the conviction was affirmed, Summerlin sought habeas corpus relief, which the United States district court denied. A panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided the case, and then the en banc court reheard it. The question on rehearing was whether the Supreme Court, in Ring v. Arizona, announced a new, substantive rule of law that had to be applied retroactively to cases such as Summerlin’s, under Teague v. Lane. In Ring v. Arizona, the Supreme Court held that Arizona’s capital sentencing scheme was incompatible with the Sixth Amendment right to trial by jury. On rehearing, the Court of Appeals held that: (1) Ring v. Arizona announced a substantive rule for Teague purposes, and (2) Ring announced a new rule that applied retroactively to cases on federal habeas review. Accordingly, Summerlin’s death sentence was vacated.
1. Did the Ninth Circuit err by holding that the new rule announced in Ring v. Arizona is substantive, rather than procedural, and therefore exempt from the retroactivity analysis of Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288 (1989)?
2. Did the Ninth Circuit err by holding that the new rule announced in Ring applies retroactively to cases on collateral review under Teague's exception for watershed rules of criminal procedure that alter bedrock procedural principles and seriously enhance the accuracy of the proceedings?