KEMP v. POTTS
475 U.S. 1068

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

KEMP v. POTTS , 475 U.S. 1068 (1986)

475 U.S. 1068

Ralph KEMP, Warden,
v.
Jack Howard POTTS.
No. 85-337

Supreme Court of the United States

March 10, 1986

On petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

The motion of respondent for leave to proceed in forma pauperis is granted. The petition for writ of certiorari is denied.

CHIEF JUSTICE BURGER, with whom Justice REHNQUIST joins, dissenting from the denial of certiorari.

Eleven years ago, while in Cobb County, Georgia, Potts and a female companion persuaded Robert Snyder to give them a ride in a pickup truck. After Snyder agreed, Potts shot him through the left ear and nose with a pistol. Snyder acted as if he were unconscious while Potts dragged him out of the truck. Potts robbed

Page 475 U.S. 1068 , 1069

Snyder and then, unable to start the truck, walked to a nearby home. There he told Michael Priest that an accident had occurred. Priest drove Potts back to the truck. Upon their arrival, Priest saw Snyder lying in a ditch and attempted to help him. But Potts ordered Priest to drive him and his companion to the next county, Forsyth County. Once there, he forced Priest out of the car at gunpoint. Priest said, "Oh my God, don't kill me"; Potts retorted that there was no such thing as God, and that he would determine whether Priest would live or die. Potts then put a gun to Priest's head and killed him.

Potts was convicted in the Superior Court of Cobb County of kidnaping Priest with bodily injury, armed robbery of Priest, and armed robbery and aggravated assault of Snyder. Potts was sentenced to death for the kidnaping and for the armed robbery. He was subsequently tried in the Superior Court of Forsyth County for the murder of Priest and received another death sentence. Potts' convictions and sentences were affirmed by the Georgia Supreme Court, although the court vacated Potts' death sentence for armed robbery. Potts v. State, 241 Ga. 67, 69, 243 S.E.2d 510, 514 (1978). He then sought and was denied state habeas relief.

Potts next sought a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. The District Court ordered a new guilt/innocence trial with respect to the Cobb County kidnaping conviction and a new sentencing trial with respect to the Forsyth County murder conviction. 575 F.Supp. 374 (1983). The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed. 734 F.2d 526 (11th Cir.1984).

Potts' federal habeas petition contained several issues that had never been presented to the Georgia state courts; for the first time in his petition, he argued that he was denied effective assistance of counsel . This issue had not been raised on direct appeal or on state habeas. Indeed, in the District Court Potts moved to amend his federal habeas petition to include this new claim. The State contended that Potts had not exhausted his state remedies, citing this Court's opinion in Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509 (1982). The District Court nonetheless granted the motion to amend, stating that it was "hard pressed to see how [the State] would be prejudiced by the granting of the . . . motion." Of course, this was a wholly insufficient basis for ignoring the requirement of exhaustion of state remedies made explicit in Lundy. There we ex- [475 U.S. 1068 , 1070]


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