Collins v. Youngblood

RESPONDENT: Youngblood
LOCATION: Residence of Cruzan

DOCKET NO.: 89-742
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 497 US 37 (1990)
ARGUED: Mar 19, 1990
DECIDED: Jun 21, 1990

Charles A. Palmer - on behalf of the Petitioner
Jon R. Farrar - on behalf of the Respondent

Facts of the case


Media for Collins v. Youngblood

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 19, 1990 in Collins v. Youngblood

William H. Rehnquist:

We'll hear argument next in Number 89-742, James A. Collins, Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice v. Carroll F. Youngblood.

Mr. Palmer.

Charles A. Palmer:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

This is a statutory habeas corpus case brought by a Texas state prisoner.

The question presented is whether the ex post facto clause was violated when the state appellate court applied a statute that allowed it to reform the judgment to delete an unauthorized punishment.

In 1981 Carroll Youngblood abducted and sexually assaulted a young woman.

He was tried the next year upon his plea of not guilty, and was found guilty of the offense of aggravated sexual assault by a jury.

Thereafter, a separate punishment hearing was held before the same jury, in which the state proved that Youngblood had previously been convicted of a felony.

The jury assessed punishment of life imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.

Following affirmance of his conviction, Youngblood filed a state habeas application in which he complained that the fine that the jury assessed was not authorized by state law.

The Texas court of criminal appeals agreed and granted relief.

Acting pursuant to Article 37.10(b) of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, the court of criminal appeals reformed the judgment to delete the fine.

Youngblood remains incarcerated pursuant to the life sentence handed down by his jury.

Texas law in effect at the time of the offense proscribed the conduct in which Youngblood engaged and provided that it could be punished by term of imprisonment up to and including life.

This is not a case in which the law was changed to criminalize previously innocent conduct.

Nor is it a case in which the range of punishment was increased subsequent to the commission of the offense.

There is no question but what Youngblood was on notice at the time he engaged in his actions that they could lead to the incarceration he presently is suffering.

He cannot show an ex post facto violation under the test of Calder v. Bull, nor can he show that he was deprived of fair warning of the possible consequences of his actions.

Anthony M. Kennedy:

But do you argue that this claim is barred by Teague v. Lane?

Charles A. Palmer:

Your Honor, we have not briefed that issue, and we have not chosen to rely on it.

If the Court chooses to address that without reaching the ex post facto question, I think it is clear that it would be barred.

Anthony M. Kennedy:

Do you understand Teague to be a jurisdictional rule or is it something you can waive?

Charles A. Palmer:

I understand it to be jurisdictional, Your Honor.

Certainly if it is not, well, then I would think we had waived it in this case.

But given the conflicting opinions of the courts through which this case has travelled, both state and Federal, particularly the two concurring opinions in the court of appeals below, I don't think there is any question but what this would be a new rule under Teague and under Butler v. McKellar.

William H. Rehnquist:

Mr. Palmer, you know, in the opinion, even in Calder against Bull, and you find in a couple other of our opinions, they do lay down... like Beazell, for example... they do lay down these three general principles that you have adverted to.

But then there is kind of language indicating that something else might come along too, don't you think?

Charles A. Palmer:

Well, there are decisions of this Court that contain language to the effect that changes which are procedural in nature may violate the clause if they affect substantial personal rights.

I would suggest to the Court that in every case in which the Court has found a violation due to a procedural change, it has fit within the Calder framework with two exceptions.

And I think those two exceptions are readily distinguishable.