AUTRY v. MCKASKLE
Annotate this Case
465 U.S. 1085 (1984)
U.S. Supreme Court
AUTRY v. MCKASKLE , 465 U.S. 1085 (1984)
465 U.S. 1085
James David AUTRY
Dan V. McKASKLE, Acting Director, Texas Department of Corrections
Supreme Court of the United States
March 13, 1984
On petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
The petition for writ of certiorari is denied.
Justice MARSHALL, with whom Justice BRENNAN joins, dissenting.
It is not unusual for this Court to spend considerable amounts of time deliberating over difficult issues presented in a petition for a writ of certiorari. Yet in this case, where the constitutional validity of a death sentence is challenged on a variety of substantial grounds, the Court is dramatically expediting its normal deliberative processes to clear the way for an impending execution.
Unfortunately, this case is not an aberration but is part of a pattern of recent decisions in each of which the Court has shown an unseemly desire to bring litigation in a capital case to a fast and irrevocable end. See, e.g., Woodard v. Hutchins, ___ U.S. ___, ___, 755 (1984) (BRENNAN, J., dissenting) ( criticizing "rush to judgment" in decision to vacate stay of execution); id., at ___, 104 S.Ct. at 755 (WHITE, J., and STEVENS, J., dissenting); id., at ___, 104 S.Ct. at 755 (MARSHALL, J., dissenting); Autry v. Estelle, ___ U.S. ___, ___, 23 (1983) ( STEVENS, J., dissenting) (criticizing decision to deny stay of execution pending filing and disposition of petition for certiorari); Barefoot v. Estelle, ___ U.S. ___, ___, 3401 (1983) ( MARSHALL, J., dissenting) (criticizing suggestion that courts of appeal may adopt special,
summary procedures for cases in which a stay of a death sentence has been requested).
Among the materials presently before the Court pertaining to petitioner's conviction and sentence are an application for a certificate of probable cause, two petitions for certiorari, and an application for a stay pending disposition of the latest petition for certiorari. See Autry v. McKaskle, ___ U.S. ___, 78 L.Ed.2d ___. Despite the fact that the petition in No. 83-5720 was still pending in this Court, the state set the date for petitioner's execution during our recess. Aware that the state cannot execute petitioner while his various petitions are pending in this Court, cf. United States v. Shipp, 203 U.S. 563 (1906), and yet unwilling to postpone petitioner's scheduled execution even a day or so, the Court has cut short its consideration of petitioner's multifarious claims. I, for one, feel unfairly pressed by the Court's insistence upon expedited procedures in death cases. [Footnote 1]
As an indication of the serious nature of the questions petitioner poses, I shall briefly discuss two issues raised in one of his petitions for certiorari, No. 82-5720, that clearly merit plenary review. I fear that, in our rush to judgment, we could be overlooking still other important claims.
The first issue posed in No. 82-5720-whether the state wrongfully denied immunity to a witness necessary to petitioner's defense-implicates a conflict among the federal courts of appeals regarding the proper standards for testing such claims. The second issue involves substantial allegations that petitioner was convicted on the basis, at least in part, of statements made as a result of beatings administered by police- allegations that have never been adequately addressed by the courts below.
Petitioner, James David Autry, was convicted and sentenced to death for murdering a clerk while attempting to rob a convenience store. [Footnote 2] For the purpose of evaluating his petition for certiorari, two sets of circumstances are significant. First, petitioner unsuccessfully requested the trial court to grant his co-defendant, John Alton Sandifer, use immunity for his eye-witness testimony [465 U.S. 1085 , 1087]