Published on: Tuesday, January 8, 2019

In Shoop v. Hill, No. 18-56 (Jan. 7, 2019) (per curiam), the Supreme Court unanimously reversed the Sixth Circuit's decision granting habeas relief to Ohio death row inmate Danny Hill.  The Court of Appeals had held that Hill was entitled to habeas relief under the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), 28 U.S.C. SS 2254(d)(1), "because the decisions of the Ohio courts concluding that he is not intellectually disabled were contrary to Supreme Court precedent that was clearly established at the time in question."  In doing so, the Sixth Circuit relied repeatedly and extnesively on the Supreme Court's 2017 decision in Moore v. Texas, 137 S. Ct. 1039 (2017), which was decided long after the Ohio Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the denial of Hill's claim in 2008.  Because of this, the Supreme Court held "[t]he Court of Appeals' reliance on Moore was plainly improper under SS 2254(d)(1), and we therefore vacate that decision and remand so that Hill's claim regarding intellectual disability can be evaluated based solely on holdings of this Court that were clearly established at the relevant time."  For Hill, the "relevant time" is 2008 when the last state-court decision adjudicated his claim.   

 

Merits stage briefing in Hill is available on the Supreme Court's website here, and the Sixth Circuit's opinion is here. The Training Division provides resources to federal capital trial and federal capital habeas counsel through the Capital Defense Network.