STRAIGHT v. WAINWRIGHT
476 U.S. 1132 (1986)

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U.S. Supreme Court

STRAIGHT v. WAINWRIGHT , 476 U.S. 1132 (1986)

476 U.S. 1132

Ronald J. STRAIGHT
v.
WAINWRIGHT, Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections, et al.
No. A-892(85-6947)

Supreme Court of the United States

May 20, 1986

The order heretofore entered staying the execution of the sentence of death until 5 p.m., May 20, 1986, is vacated. The application for stay of execution of the sentence of death presented to Justice POWELL and by him referred to the Court is denied.

Justice POWELL, joined by THE CHIEF JUSTICE, Justice REHNQUIST, and Justice O'CONNOR, concurring in the denial of a stay.

In view of the discussion in the dissents, I write to summarize my reasons for voting to deny a stay in this case.

Ronald Straight is here on his second federal habeas corpus petition. In his first petition, Straight argued that he was handicapped by the reasonable belief of trial counsel and the trial judge that Florida law barred the introduction of nonstatutory mitigating evidence at capital sentencing proceedings. Cf. Lockett v. Ohio, 438 U.S. 586 (1978). The District Court denied relief on this claim, and on Straight's other claims as well, and the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed. Straight v. Wainwright, 772 F.2d 674 (CA11 1985). Less than seven weeks ago, this Court denied Straight's petition for certiorari, a petition that again raised his Lockett argument. 475 U.S. 1099 (1986).

In his second habeas petition, filed late yesterday, Straight raises the same substantive legal claim, and adds various new

Page 476 U.S. 1132 , 1133

factual allegations in support. The District Court properly found that, to the extent Straight seeks to relitigate the same claims raised earlier, his petition should be dismissed under Habeas Corpus Rule 9(b) as a successive petition. The court also found that, to the extent that Straight sought to make new arguments that plainly could have been raised earlier, his petition was an abuse of the writ. See Woodard v. Hutchins, 464 U.S. 377, 378-380, 752-754 (1984) ( POWELL, J., joined by BURGER, C.J., and BLACKMUN, REHNQUIST, and O'CONNOR, JJ., concurring). The Court of Appeals found no error in the District Court's disposition, and denied a certificate of probable cause to appeal. The Court of Appeals granted a stay of execution until noon today to permit this Court to consider Straight's belated application for a stay and petition for certiorari. [Footnote 1]

I find no basis for concluding that the District Court abused its discretion. Applicant has not offered any reason why he should be permitted to relitigate his Lockett claim, nor has he justified his previous failure to allege the supporting factual grounds on which he now relies. Thus, the District Court's decision to deny relief based on Rule 9 was plainly correct. That being the case, there is no ground for reaching the merits argument that the dissenting opinions now rely on. [Footnote 2] [476 U.S. 1132 , 1134]


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