Wright v. West

PETITIONER:Wright, Warden, et al.
LOCATION:Circuit Court of Vermilion County

DOCKET NO.: 91-542
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1991-1993)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

CITATION: 505 US 277 (1992)
ARGUED: Mar 24, 1992
DECIDED: Jun 19, 1992

Donald R. Curry – on behalf of the Petitioners
Maureen E. Mahoney – on behalf of the United States, as amicus curiae, supporting Petitioners
Steven H. Goldblatt – on behalf of the Respondent

Facts of the case


Media for Wright v. West

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – March 24, 1992 in Wright v. West

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – June 19, 1992 in Wright v. West

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinions of the Court in two cases will be announced by Justice Thomas.

Clarence Thomas:

In the first case, I have the judgment of the Court to announce, Wright v. West, 91-542.

This case comes to us on writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Respondent, Frank West, was convicted of grand larceny in a Virginia Trial Court.

On direct and state collateral review, the Supreme Court of Virginia rejected West’s claim that the evidence introduced at trial was insufficient to support his conviction.

West then sought a writ of habeas corpus from the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia which also rejected West’s sufficiency challenge.

The Court of Appeals reversed.

Applying our decision in Jackson versus Virginia, the Court of Appeals correctly recognized that as a matter of due process, evidence is sufficient to support a criminal conviction if after reviewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution any rational trial or fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Court of Appeals concluded that in this case, the Jackson standard was not met.

We unanimously reverse.

The Chief Justice, Justice Scalia, and I conclude that there was sufficient evidence to support West’s conviction regardless of whether the State Court determination of that question should be reviewed deferentially or de novo on federal habeas.

Justice White has filed an opinion concurring in the result; Justice O’Connor has filed an opinion concurring in the judgment in which Justice Blackmun and Justice Stevens have joined; Justice Kennedy and Justice Souter also have filed opinions concurring in the judgment.