- 502 U.S. 236 (1992)
OCTOBER TERM, 1991
IN RE BLODGETT, SUPERINTENDENT, WASHINGTON STATE PENITENTIARY, ET AL.
ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS No. 91-716. Decided January 13, 1992
Charles Campbell was convicted in Washington state court of multiple murders in 1982. Mter his second federal habeas petition was filed and denied by the District Court in March 1989, the Court of Appeals granted an indefinite stay of execution. The case was argued and submitted to the Court of Appeals in June 1989, but no decision has been announced and the stay remains in effect. In 1990, the State Attorney General twice wrote letters to the court inquiring about the status of the case, but they went unanswered. In February 1991, the court vacated the submission of the case pending the outcome of Campbell's third state action for collateral relief. Mter that relief was denied, Campbell advised the court that he intended to file a third federal habeas petition. In August 1991, over two years after the case was submitted, the panel directed him to file the third petition and announced its intention to wait for the District Court's ruling on it before taking further action. The State Attorney General filed this mandamus petition.
Held: This Court declines to issue mandamus to the Court of Appeals at this time. The grant of a stay of execution directed to a State by a federal court imposes on that court the concomitant duty to take all steps necessary to ensure a prompt resolution of the matter, and the State has sustained severe prejudice by the 2112-year stay of execution. Nonetheless, as a predicate for extraordinary relief, the State should have asked the Court of Appeals to vacate or modify its August 1991 order before coming to this Court. The Court of Appeals should determine how best to expedite the appeal, given the present posture of the case. Denial of the writ is without prejudice to the State's right to again seek mandamus or other extraordinary relief if unnecessary delays or unwarranted stays occur in the panel's disposition of the matter.
The Court has before it a petition from the State of Washington for a writ of mandamus to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The petition seeks an order directing the
Court of Appeals to issue its decision on an appeal from the District Court's denial of a second federal habeas petition in a capital case. The appeal was argued and submitted to the Court of Appeals on June 27, 1989, and no decision has been forthcoming.
Charles Rodman Campbell was convicted of multiple murders in 1982 in the State of Washington and sentenced to death. After his conviction was affirmed on direct appeal and we denied certiorari, Campbell v. Washington, 471 U. S. 1094 (1985), his first federal habeas petition was filed in July 1985 in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. Proceedings in that matter were completed when we denied certiorari in November 1988. Campbell v. Kincheloe, 488 U. S. 948. No relief was granted.
In March 1989, Campbell filed a second federal habeas petition in the same District Court. The court acted with commendable dispatch, holding a hearing and issuing a written opinion denying a stay or other relief within days after the second petition was filed. On March 28, 1989, Campbell appealed to the Ninth Circuit. The Court of Appeals granted an indefinite stay of execution and set a briefing schedule. The case was argued and submitted in June 1989, but no decision was announced and the stay of execution remains in effect. The Washington attorney general sent letters to the panel in April and October 1990 inquiring about the status of the case, but neither letter was answered.
In January 1990, Campbell filed a motion to withdraw certain issues from consideration by the Ninth Circuit panel, and he renewed this motion in April. The panel took no action. In July 1990, Campbell filed his third state action for collateral relief, a personal restraint petition, with the Washington Supreme Court. In September, Campbell again moved the Court of Appeals to withdraw three issues from consideration in the case that it was still holding under submission, leaving eight others to be decided. The panel did not respond until by order of February 21, 1991, it noted