Magwood v. Patterson - Oral Argument - March 24, 2010

Magwood v. Patterson

Media for Magwood v. Patterson

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 24, 2010 in Magwood v. Patterson

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 24, 2010 in Magwood v. Patterson

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

We will hear argument next in Case 09-158, Magwood v. Patterson.

Mr. Fisher.

Jeffrey L. Fisher:

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

A habeas petition challenging a new State court judgment for the first time cannot be a second or successive petition.

AEDPA, of course, is a highly complex statutory system that has many interdependent parts.

The pivotal language of this case, section 2244, is reproduced at page 2 of the blue brief, of Petitioner's brief.

What that section does is it restricts claims that can be brought in, quote,

"a second or successive habeas corpus application. "

under section 2254.

So this text establishes a two-step framework.

First, the court needs to decide whether it's dealing with a second or successive petition.

And second, if it is and only if it is, then the Court applies the modified res judicata principles set forth in that section.

Now, this case involves only the first of those two steps.

And a petition, as here, that challenges a new death sentence cannot be a second or successive petition for the very simple reason that it challenges a State court judgment that has no -- never been covered in a habeas petition before.

Samuel A. Alito, Jr.:

2244 doesn't make any reference to judgment, 2244(b).

And now you bring in the concept of a judgment by looking at another provision.

But if 8 of your brief can be correct; namely, that when a prisoner such as Petitioner obtains habeas relief from his sentence but not his conviction, any habeas petition after his resentencing that challenged his conviction would be successive.

You suggest that there are two judgments; there is a judgment of sentence and there is a judgment of conviction.

But for habeas purposes, the only thing that is relevant is the judgment pursuant to which the Petitioner is held in custody.

And that is the judgment -- that is the sentence.

So I -- I -- if your argument is correct that you look to whether there's a second or successive application as to a judgment, then the point you make in footnote 8 just cannot be true.

So that if Petitioner gets sentencing relief, gets resentenced, in the second petition the Petitioner can challenge the conviction.

Jeffrey L. Fisher:

But, Justice Alito, let me make clear how we get to incorporating judgment and then answer your question.

The way that you incorporate the word 2244> ["].

And section 2244 defines -- and this is at the bottom of the page, of page 2--

Samuel A. Alito, Jr.:

I understand that.

Jeffrey L. Fisher:

--defines it as

"seeking relief from a State court judgment. "

Now, you are right that -- that -- that if somebody receives relief only as to their sentence and gets a new death sentence, as in this case, that the judgment he is challenging is new only as to the sentence.

Now, there -- the word U.S. Code.