EDWARDS v. VANNOY, WARDENCERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT No. 19–5807.Argued November 30, 2020—Decided May 17, 2021In 2007, a Louisiana jury found petitioner Thedrick Edwards guilty of armed robbery, rape, and kidnapping. At the time, Louisiana law permitted non-unanimous jury verdicts if at least 10 of the 12 jurors found the defendant guilty. In Edwards’s case, 11 of 12 jurors returned a guilty verdict as to some crimes, and 10 of 12 jurors returned a guilty verdict as to others. After Edwards’s conviction became final on direct review, Edwards filed a federal habeas corpus petition, arguing that the non-unanimous jury verdict violated his constitutional right to a unanimous jury. The District Court rejected Edwards’s claim as foreclosed by Apodaca v. Oregon, 406 U. S. 404, and the Fifth Circuit denied a certificate of appealability. While Edwards’s petition for a writ of certiorari was pending, the Court repudiated Apodoca and held that a state jury must be unanimous to convict a criminal defendant of a serious offense. Ramos v. Louisiana, 590 U. S. ___. Edwards now argues that the Ramos jury-unanimity rule applies retroactively on federal collateral review.Held: The Ramos jury-unanimity rule does not apply retroactively on federal collateral review. Pp. 5–20.(a) A new rule of criminal procedure applies to cases on direct review, even if the defendant’s trial has already concluded. But the Court has stated that new rules of criminal procedure ordinarily do not apply retroactively on federal collateral review. The Court has stated that a new procedural rule will apply retroactively on federal collateral review only if the new rule constitutes a “watershed” rule of criminal procedure. Teague v. Lane, 489 U. S. 288, 311 (plurality opinion). When the Teague Court first articulated that “watershed” exception, however, the Court stated that it was “unlikely” that such watershed “components of basic due process have yet to emerge.” Id., at 313. And in the 32 years since Teague, the Court has never found that any new procedural rule actually satisfies the purported exception. Pp. 5–7.(b) To determine whether Ramos applies retroactively on federal collateral review, the Court must first ask whether Ramos announced a new rule of criminal procedure and, if so, whether that rule falls within an exception for watershed rules of criminal procedure that apply retroactively on federal collateral review. The Court concludes that Ramos announced a new rule and that the jury-unanimity rule announced by Ramos does not apply retroactively on federal collateral review. Pp. 8–14.(1) The Ramos jury-unanimity rule is new because it was not “dictated by precedent existing at the time the defendant’s conviction became final,” Teague, 489 U. S., at 301, or “apparent to all reasonable jurists” at that time, Lambrix v. Singletary, 520 U. S. 518, 528. On the contrary, before Ramos, many courts interpreted Apodaca to allow for non-unanimous jury verdicts in state criminal trials. And the Ramos Court expressly repudiated Apodaca. Pp. 8–10.(2) The new rule announced in Ramos does not qualify as a “watershed” procedural rule that applies retroactively on federal collateral review. In an attempt to distinguish Ramos from the long line of cases where the Court has declined to retroactively apply new procedural rules, Edwards emphasizes three aspects of Ramos:
(i) the significance of the jury-unanimity right;
(ii) Ramos’s reliance on the original meaning of the Constitution; and
(iii) the effect of Ramos in preventing racial discrimination in the jury process.
But the Court has refused to retroactively apply other momentous cases with similar attributes. In DeStefano v. Woods, 392 U. S. 631, the Court declined to retroactively apply Duncan v. Louisiana, 395 U. S. 145, even though Duncan established the jury right itself. In Whorton v. Bockting, 549 U. S. 406, the Court declined to retroactively apply Crawford v. Washington, 541 U. S. 36, even though Crawford relied on the original meaning of the Sixth Amendment to restrict the use of hearsay evidence against criminal defendants. And in Allen v. Hardy, 478 U. S. 255 (per curiam), the Court declined to retroactively apply Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U. S. 79, even though Batson held that state prosecutors may not discriminate on the basis of race when exercising individual peremptory challenges. There is no good rationale for treating Ramos differently from Duncan, Crawford, and Batson. Pp. 10–14.(3) Given the Court’s numerous precedents holding that landmark and historic decisions announcing new rules of criminal procedure do not apply retroactively on federal collateral review, the Court acknowledges that the watershed exception is moribund and that no new rules of criminal procedure can satisfy the purported exception for watershed rules. Continuing to articulate a theoretical exception that never actually applies in practice offers false hope to defendants, distorts the law, misleads judges, and wastes the resources of defense counsel, prosecutors, and courts. Moreover, no one can reasonably rely on an exception that is non-existent in practice, so no reliance interests can be affected by forthrightly acknowledging reality. The watershed exception must “be regarded as retaining no vitality.” Herrera v. Wyoming, 587 U. S. ___, ___ (slip op., at 11) (internal quotation marks omitted). Pp. 14–15.Affirmed.KAVANAUGH, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., THOMAS, ALITO, GORSUCH, and BARRETT, JJ., joined. THOMAS, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which GORSUCH, J., joined. GORSUCH, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which THOMAS, J., joined.
KAGAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BREYER and SOTOMAYOR, JJ., joined.
The conclusion of the majority opinion states:
To summarize the Court’s retroactivity principles: New substantive rules alter “the range of conduct or the class of persons that the law punishes.” Summerlin, 542 U. S., at 353. Those new substantive rules apply to cases pending in trial courts and on direct review, and they also apply retroactively on federal collateral review. New procedural rules alter “only the manner of determining the defendant’s culpability.” Ibid. (emphasis deleted). Those new procedural rules apply to cases pending in trial courts and on direct review. But new procedural rules do not apply retroactively on federal collateral review.
Ramos announced a new rule of criminal procedure. It does not apply retroactively on federal collateral review. We affirm the judgment of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
The concurring opinion from Justice Thomas argues that the same conclusions was compelled by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA).
The concurring opinion from Justice Gorsuch tries to put the Court's ruling in the context of the history of writ of habeas corpus jurisprudence.
Justice Kagan argues in dissent that Ramos was a watershed rule which should have been applied retroactively under Teague.
The practical effect of the ruling is that hundreds or up to several thousand inmates in Louisiana and Oregon who were convicted of felonies in non-unanimous jury verdicts will not receive new trials.