Lindh v. Murphy
521 U.S. 320

Annotate this Case

OCTOBER TERM, 1996

Syllabus

LINDH v. MURPHY, WARDEN

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT

No. 96-6298. Argued April 14, 1997-Decided June 23,1997

Wisconsin tried petitioner Lindh on noncapital murder and attempted murder charges. In response to his insanity defense, the State called a psychiatrist who had examined Lindh but who had come under criminal investigation for sexual exploitation of patients before the trial began. Lindh's attempt to question the doctor about that investigation in hopes of showing the doctor's interest in currying favor with the State was barred by the trial court, and Lindh was convicted. He was denied relief on his direct appeal, in which he claimed a violation of the Confrontation Clause. He raised that claim again in a federal habeas corpus application, which was denied, and he promptly appealed. Shortly after oral argument before the Seventh Circuit, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (Act) amended the federal habeas statute. Following an en banc rehearing to consider the Act's impact, the court held that the amendments to chapter 153 of Title 28, which governs all habeas proceedings, generally apply to cases pending on the date of enactment; that applying the new version of 28 U. S. C. § 2254(d)-which governs standards affecting entitlement to relief-to pending cases would not have a retroactive effect barring its application under Landgraf v. USI Film Products, 511 U. S. 244, because it would not attach new legal consequences to events preceding enactment; and that the statute applied to Lindh's case.

Held: Since the new provisions of chapter 153 generally apply only to cases filed after the Act became effective, they do not apply to pending noncapital cases such as Lindh's. Pp. 324-337.

(a) Wisconsin errs in arguing that whenever a new statute on its face could apply to the litigation of events preceding enactment, there are only two alternative sources of rules to determine its ultimate temporal reach: either Congress's express command or application of the Landgraf default rule governing retroactivity. Normal rules of construction apply in determining a statute's temporal reach generally and whether a statute's terms would produce a retroactive effect. Although Landgraf's rule would deny application when a retroactive effect would otherwise result, other construction rules may apply to remove even the possibility of retroactivity (as by rendering the statutory provision


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wholly inapplicable to a particular case), as Lindh argues the recognition of a negative implication would do here. Pp. 324-326.

(b) The statute reveals Congress's general intent to apply the chapter 153 amendments only to cases filed after its enactment. The Act revised chapter 153 for all habeas proceedings. Then § 107 of the Act created an entirely new chapter 154 for habeas proceedings in capital cases, with special rules favorable to those States that meet certain conditions. Section 107(c) expressly applies chapter 154 to pending cases. The negative implication is that the chapter 153 amendments were meant to apply only to cases filed after enactment. If Congress was reasonably concerned to ensure that chapter 154 applied to pending cases, only a different intent explains the fact that it did not enact a similar provision for chapter 153. Had the chapters evolved separately and been joined together at the last minute, after chapter 154 had acquired its mandate, there might have been a possibility that Congress intended the same rule for each chapter, but was careless in the roughand-tumble. But those are not the circumstances here: § 107(c) was added after the chapters were introduced as a single bill. Section 107(c)'s insertion thus illustrates the familiar rule that negative implications raised by disparate provisions are strongest when the portions of a statute treated differently had already been joined together and were being considered simultaneously when the language raising the implication was inserted. See Field v. Mans, 516 U. S. 59. Respondent's one competing explanation-that § 107(c) was intended to fix an ambiguity over when a State would qualify for chapter 154's favorable rules-is too remote to displace the straightforward inference that chapter 153 was not meant to apply to pending cases. Finally, while new § 2264(b)-which was enacted within chapter 154 and provides that new §§2254(d) and (e) in chapter 153 would apply to pending chapter 154 cases-does not speak to the present issue with flawless clarity, it tends to confirm the interpretation of § 107(c) adopted here. It shows that Congress assumed that in the absence of § 2264(b), new §§ 2254(d) and (e) would not apply to pending cases. Pp.326-337.

96 F.3d 856, reversed and remanded.

SOUTER, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which STEVENS, O'CONNOR, GINSBURG, and BREYER, JJ., joined. REHNQUIST, C. J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which SCALIA, KENNEDY, and THOMAS, JJ., joined, post, p. 337.

James S. Liebman argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs were Richard C. Neuhoff and Keith A. Findley.


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Full Text of Opinion

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