Horn v. Banks

LOCATION:United States District Court Eastern District of Michigan

DOCKET NO.: 01-1385
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-2005)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

CITATION: 536 US 266 (2002)
DECIDED: Jun 17, 2002

Facts of the case

George Banks was convicted of 12 counts of first-degree murder. After Banks’ direct appeal was denied, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Mills v. Maryland, 486 U.S. 367, that the Constitution prohibits a state from requiring jurors unanimously to agree that a particular mitigating circumstance exists before they are permitted to consider that circumstance in their sentencing determination. Under this new case law, Mills argued that the jurors in his trial were instructed improperly. Custodial officials argued that the law was not applicable retroactively on habeas corpus review. Ultimately, because the Pennsylvania Supreme Court did not rule on retroactivity, the Federal Court of Appeals concluded that the State Supreme Court had unreasonably applied federal law in evaluating Banks’ claim that his penalty phase jury instructions and verdict forms were improper under Mills without evaluating retroactivity.


Did the Court of Appeals err by failing to perform an analysis of whether Mills v. Maryland, 486 U.S. 367, applied retroactively to cases on federal habeas corpus review under Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288?