455 U.S. 1028 (1982)

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U.S. Supreme Court

ANDERSON v. FULLER , 455 U.S. 1028 (1982)

455 U.S. 1028

Charles ANDERSON, Warden, petitioner,
Cornell FULLER
No. 81-855

Supreme Court of the United States

March 22, 1982

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

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

Opinion of Justice STEVENS respecting the denial of the petition for writ of certiorari.

Although I believe that Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, was decided incorrectly, it is not at all clear to me that the Court of Appeals in this case misapplied the dicta in the Court's opinion in Jackson. The Court of Appeals did not purport to resolve any conflict in the evidence. Quite properly it attached no weight to the fact that the defendant did not testify, or to the fact that his mother may have testified falsely in support of an alibi defense. Neither of those facts is affirmative evidence of guilt.

Based on their duty to "review the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution," 662 F.2d 420, 423 (CA6 1981), a majority of the judges of the Court of Appeals concluded-as had the District Court and two of five justices of the Michigan Supreme Court-that there was insufficient evidence in the record that the respondent had intended to commit a crime. It is quite misleading to describe the slim record in this case as "a classic case of conflicting evidence,"

Page 455 U.S. 1028 , 1029

post, at 1031, or to imply that these conscientious federal judges chose " to sit as a jury and set aside the lawful jury's findings of fact." Post, at 1033. What the Court of Appeals did conclude was that evidence that the respondent, like several other boys, was present at the scene of the crime was legally insufficient to permit any rational trier of fact to find beyond a reasonable doubt that respondent was a participant in that crime. See 662 F.2d, at 423. The essence of the Court of Appeals decision is explained in the following few paragraphs:

"The district court correctly concluded that the evidence introduced at petitioner's trial only showed that on the morning of May 18 Fuller was present at the Turner residence along with Zerious Meadows and the other boys. The evidence showed that Fuller looked around while Meadows started the fires. But as Judge Feikens pointed out:

" 'This suggests, as Jeffrey Coleman surmised, that the petitioner may have been acting as a lookout for Meadows. It is reasonable speculation. But could a rational jury find it to be proof beyond a reasonable doubt? No evidence was presented that the petitioner intended to burn the Turner home. The evidence that he knew that Zerious Meadows planned to do [sic] is simply too meager to support conviction.' (emphasis in original)

"We note that there was no evidence at trial that the 'Molotov cocktail' which started the fire was prepared in advance, or, if it was, whether any of the boys other than Zerious Meadows knew that the 'Molotov cocktail' existed. There was of course no evidence that any of the boys, except Fuller [sic], participated in the manufacture of the 'Molotov cocktail'.

"Moreover, there was no direct evidence that the youths approached the Turner house with intent to set the house on fire. Assuming Zerious Meadows had this [455 U.S. 1028 , 1030]

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