SCOTUS tells appeals court deferential standards of review 'apply with equal force' in capital cases
The U.S. Supreme Court has reinstated a death sentence imposed after a federal trial judge excused a juror who waffled on whether he could impose the death penalty.
The U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death sentence for Roger Wheeler on Monday in a per curiam opinion (PDF) summarily reversing a decision by the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Wheeler was convicted of a 1997 double murder after a trial judge dismissed the juror for cause. The juror, known as “Juror 638, had given “equivocal and inconsistent answers” about whether he could impose the death penalty, the Supreme Court said. The 6th Circuit had found that excusing the juror violated the defendant’s Sixth and 14th Amendment rights.
The Supreme Court said the 6th Circuit did not properly apply the deferential standard of review required in habeas cases by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.
“This court again advises the Court of Appeals that the provisions of the AEDPA apply with full force even when reviewing a conviction and sentence imposing the death penalty,” the Supreme Court said.