Renico v. Lett - Oral Argument - March 29, 2010

Renico v. Lett

Media for Renico v. Lett

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - May 03, 2010 in Renico v. Lett

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 29, 2010 in Renico v. Lett

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

We will hear argument first this morning in Case 09-338, Renico v. Lett.

Stephen G. Breyer:

Objectively unreasonable.

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

Mr. McGormley.

Joel D. McGormley:

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

Because this is a habeas case arising from a murder conviction obtained in the Michigan courts, the threshold question under AEDPA is whether there is any clearly established Supreme Court precedent that the Michigan Supreme Court objectively, unreasonably applied in rejecting Mr. Lett's claims that the trial court had abused its discretion in -- in discharging the jury due to deadlock.

The Sixth Circuit second-guessed on habeas, ignored deference under AEDPA, as well as the broad discretion, due the trial court determination.

Here there was a note suggesting acrimonious deliberations received early on in the second day of deliberations, followed by a second note suggesting a deadlock after approximately 10 hours of trial testimony and 4 hours of deliberations.

The trial court at that time engaged the foreperson in a colloquy, a two-part colloquy, in which the foreperson not only confirmed the content of the first note, but also confirmed the existence of a deadlock.

Sonia Sotomayor:

Excuse me.

The content of the first note was a query of the court.

And that query was:

"What happens if we can't reach a verdict? "

Isn't that substantially different?

Doesn't that suggest that the jury is trying to figure out what are the consequences of its actions and whether reaching a consensus is possible?

Joel D. McGormley:

Well, Justice Sotomayor, the first note was the note regarding our raised voices disturbing other proceedings.

The second note regards--

Sonia Sotomayor:

Excuse me.

How long before that last note was that?

Joel D. McGormley:

--Well, the Michigan Supreme Court refers to that as early on in the second day of deliberations.

And then there is approximately 3 hours and 15 more minutes of deliberations, because after the second note--

Sonia Sotomayor:

Did anybody hear the voices?

Joel D. McGormley:

--The record doesn't disclose, doesn't disclose that.

Sonia Sotomayor:

Could you tell me what facts found by the lower courts or the trial courts show that the Court acted, quote, and this is from our earlier Perez case, the very first in this area,

"deliberately, responsibly, and not precipitously. "

in declaring a mistrial.

What in the facts you have recited--

Joel D. McGormley:

Well--

Sonia Sotomayor:

--show that activity?

Joel D. McGormley:

--Justice Sotomayor, the first point I would make is that, of course, this is on habeas review, and so the -- the Michigan Supreme Court made factual findings here that would be due deference.

Sonia Sotomayor:

What is the factual finding that you think we have to give deference to?