ARTICLE: THE FUTURE OF TEAGUE RETROACTIVITY, OR "REDRESSABILITY," AFTER DANFORTH V. MINNESOTA: WHY LOWER COURTS SHOULD GIVE RETROACTIVE EFFECT TO NEW CONSTITUTIONAL RULES OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE IN POSTCONVICTION PROCEEDINGS Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 2009 American Criminal Law Review
American Criminal Law Review

ARTICLE: THE FUTURE OF TEAGUE RETROACTIVITY, OR "REDRESSABILITY," AFTER DANFORTH V. MINNESOTA: WHY LOWER COURTS SHOULD GIVE RETROACTIVE EFFECT TO NEW CONSTITUTIONAL RULES OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE IN POSTCONVICTION PROCEEDINGS

Winter, 2009

American Criminal Law Review

46 Am. Crim. L. Rev. 1

Author

Christopher N. Lasch *

Excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Beginning in 1965, the Supreme Court's decisions on the retroactive application of new constitutional rules of criminal procedure have presented a "confused and confusing" 1 jurisprudence. The Court's recent decision in Danforth v. Minnesota, 2 however, represents a significant and promising break with the past. Danforth makes clear the Court's retroactivity rules are binding only on federal courts considering state prisoners' habeas corpus petitions. State postconviction courts are explicitly declared free to disregard the Court's jurisprudence. Further, Danforth leaves open the possibility that federal courts considering the postconviction claims of federal prisoners may be similarly unbound. 3

After providing a brief overview of the processes of postconviction review, this Article examines the Danforth decision and its antecedents, 4 and proposes that among the numerous possible retroactivity rules lower courts may adopt after Danforth, a rule of retroactivity should be preferred. There are several reasons why lower courts--both state 5 and federal 6 --should adopt a rule of retroactive application of new constitutional rules of criminal procedure in postconviction cases.

First, a rule of general retroactivity avoids the unfairness inevitably attendant to non-retroactive application of judicial decisions, ensuring that similarly situated litigants are treated equally. Second, a rule of general retroactivity will allow the lower courts--state and federal--to continue to participate in important doctrinal development. The development of constitutional criminal doctrine has historically depended on Tower courts' ability to expound on the meaning of constitutional provisions, but has been hindered by the Court's retroactivity jurisprudence and legislation limiting ...
 
 
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