U. S. Reports Term Year 2006-2010

Hill v. Shoop

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied. JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR, with whom JUSTICE BREYER and JUSTICE KAGAN join, dissenting from the denial of certiorari. Petitioner Danny Hill was convicted of murder and sentenced to death before this Court’s decision in Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U. S. 304 (2002), which held that it is unconstitutional to execute people with intellectual disabilities. In response to Atkins, Hill filed a petition for state postconviction relief. Despite a mountain of record evidence to the contrary, the state courts held that Hill was not intellectually disabled. On federal habeas review under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), a unanimous panel of the Sixth Circuit concluded that the state courts unreasonably determined the facts, and ordered relief as to Hill’s death sentence. Specifically, the Sixth Circuit ruled that the state courts “failed seriously to contend with the extensive past evidence of Hill’s intellectual disability” by “exclud[ing] or discount[ing] past evidence of intellectual disability” and engaged in “cafeteria-style selection of some evidence” over other evidence. Hill v. Anderson, 960 F. 3d 260, 270 (2020) (per curiam). The Sixth Circuit took the case en banc, vacated the panel decision, and in a deeply divided decision, affirmed the District Court’s denial of habeas relief.