Dye v. Hofbauer

PETITIONER: Paul Allen Dye
RESPONDENT: Gerald Hofbauer, Warden
LOCATION: Forbidden Wheels Motorcycle Club

DOCKET NO.: 04-8384
DECIDED BY: Roberts Court (2005-2006)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 546 US 1 (2005)
DECIDED: Oct 11, 2005
GRANTED: Oct 11, 2005

Facts of the case

On August 29, 1982, Glenda Collins and Donna Bartels were shot in the Forbidden Wheels Motorcycle Club. After several witnesses testified against him in exchange for immunity, Paul Allen Dye was convicted of first- and second-degree murder for the shootings. Dye contended that he was innocent and that one of the witnesses who had testified against him was the shooter. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction, and the Michigan Supreme Court denied review.

Dye petitioned for federal habeas relief and argued that he was deprived of his right to a fair trial due to prosecutorial misconduct. The district court denied his petition. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit initially held that there was flagrant prosecutorial misconduct and therefore reversed the district court’s ruling. The respondent moved for a panel rehearing, but before the rehearing occurred, one of the justices on the original panel retired. In its second opinion, the appellate court affirmed the district court’s ruling and determined that Dye’s prosecutorial misconduct claim was too vague and was not presented as a violation of a federal right to the state court because the state court’s opinion did not mention it.

Question

Can a habeas petitioner sufficiently assert his federal due process claim based on prosecutorial misconduct when the state court did not address the claim of a violation of a federal right?