Published on: Monday, April 5, 2021

Ervine Davenport was convicted after a trial at which he was visibly shackled. State courts in Michigan agreed that shackling Mr. Davenport violated the Constitution, but concluded the mistake was harmless. The Sixth Circuit disagreed and granted a writ of habeas corpus to Ervine Lee Davenport.  By an 8-7 vote, the Sixth Circuit denied rehearing en banc. Michigan petitioned to review the Sixth Circuit's decision and on Monday, the Supreme Court granted cert in Brown v. Davenport.

For background, in Brecht v. Abrahamson, the Supreme Court held that the test for whether a constitutional error is harmless on habeas review is whether the defendant suffered "actual prejudice." But Congress later enacted the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which prohibits habeas relief unless the state court ruling adjudicating its merits "resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law."