Appeal from the District Court of the Seventh Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Bonneville County, Hon. Jon J. Shindurling, District Judge. (Rhoades) Appeal from the District Court of the Seventh Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Butte County, Hon. James C. Herndon, District Judge. (McKinney) Appeal from the District Court of the Second Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Idaho County, Hon. John Bradbury, District Judge. (Pizzuto) Appeal from the District Court of the Third Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Canyon County, Hon. Juneal C. Kerrick, District Judge. (Card) Appeal from the District Court of the Sixth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Bannock County, Hon. Peter D. McDermott, District Judge. (Hairston) Appeal from the District Court of the Second Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Clearwater County, Hon. Ron Schilling, District Judge. (Stuart)
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Horton, Justice
The orders of the district courts are affirmed.
This is a consolidated appeal from orders issued by the district courts dismissing Petitioners‟ successive petitions for post-conviction relief. In those petitions, accompanied by petitions for writ of habeas corpus and motions to correct an illegal sentence, Petitioners asked that their sentences of death be vacated and that they be granted new sentencing trials. Petitioners Paul Rhoades, Randy McKinney, Gerald Pizzuto, David Card, James Hairston and Gene Stuart (collectively referred to as Petitioners) ask this Court to retroactively apply Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002). This Court previously affirmed the dismissal of all of Petitioners‟ petitions and motions, except Stuart‟s, which the Court addresses for the first time in the instant appeal. The United States Supreme Court vacated and remanded each case except Stuart‟s for additional consideration in light of that Court‟s opinion in Danforth v. Minnesota, 552 U.S. 264, 128 S.Ct. 1029 (2008). We consolidated Stuart‟s case with the other Petitioners because each case implicates identical issues. We affirm the district courts‟ orders.
I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Petitioners were all convicted of first degree murder. At the time each Petitioner was sentenced, I.C. § 19-2515 set forth the procedure a court must follow when the State sought the death penalty. The statute required that a judge find certain aggravating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt before the court could sentence the defendant to death. Porter v. State, 140 Idaho 780, 784, 102 P.3d 1099, 1103 (2004). The district court, in each of Petitioners‟ cases complied with I.C. § 19-2515 and sentenced each Petitioner to death. Prior to the U.S. Supreme Court‟s decision in Ring, Petitioners had directly appealed their convictions and sought post-conviction relief. The judgment against each Petitioner was final on direct review when the U.S. Supreme Court issued Ring.
Within forty-two days of the issuance of the Ring opinion, each Petitioner filed with the appropriate district court a petition for post-conviction relief, petition for writ of habeas corpus and a motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to I.C.R. 35. Without exception, the district court denied Petitioners‟ claims for relief and each Petitioner appealed to this Court. This Court previously addressed all of Petitioners‟ appeals except Stuart‟s appeal and affirmed the district courts‟ orders of dismissal. All Petitioners, except Stuart, subsequently petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari. The U.S. Supreme Court vacated the judgments and remanded the cases to this Court "for further consideration in light of Danforth v. Minnesota, 128 S.Ct. 1029 (2008)." Rhoades v. Idaho, ___ U.S. ___,128 S.Ct. 1441, 1441 (2008); McKinney v. Idaho, ___ U.S. ___, 128 S.Ct. 1441, 1441 (2008); Pizzuto v. Idaho, ___ U.S. ___, 128 S.Ct. 1441, 1441 (2008); Card v. Idaho, ___ U.S. ___, 128 S.Ct. 1442, 1442 (2008); Hairston v. Idaho, ___ U.S. ___, 128 S.Ct. 1442, 1442 (2008). This Court consolidated all of the remanded cases in the instant proceeding, in addition to considering Stuart‟s appeal.
This Court exercises free review over questions of law. State v. Stover, 140 Idaho 927, 929, 104 P.3d 969, 971 (2005). Statutory interpretation is a question of law over which this Court exercises free review. Id. (citing State v. Yager, 139 Idaho 680, 689, 85 P.3d 656, 665 (2004)). The constitutionality of Idaho‟s capital sentencing scheme is likewise a question of law over which this Court exercises free review. Id. (citing BHA Invs., Inc. v. State, 138 Idaho 348, 351, 63 P.3d 474, 477 (2003)).
In Ring, the United States Supreme Court held that the Sixth Amendment‟s jury trial guarantee requires that a jury find an aggravating circumstance necessary to impose the death penalty instead of a judge. 536 U.S. at 609. In Schriro v. Summerlin, 542 U.S. 348, 358 (2004), the U.S. Supreme Court held that Ring announced a new procedural rule that did not apply retroactively to cases already final on direct review under the federal retroactivity doctrine. In Porter v. State, 140 Idaho 780, 102 P.3d 1099 (2004), this Court addressed whether Summerlin controlled the retroactivity of Ring in Idaho death penalty cases, or whether the Court was free to apply a more lenient standard of retroactivity than that applied by the U.S. Supreme Court. We held in Porter that the Sixth Amendment issue identified in Ring was based solely upon the Federal Constitution and, therefore, the retroactivity of Ring was a matter of federal law and not state law. Id. at 783, 102 P.3d at 1102.
In Danforth, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the federal retroactivity doctrine does not constrain the authority of state courts to give broader effect to new rules of criminal procedure than is required by Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288 (1989). Danforth, 128 S.Ct. at 1042. The Court stated that "[s]tates are independent sovereigns with plenary authority to make and enforce their own laws as long as they do not infringe on federal constitutional guarantees." Id. at 1041. A state is thereby "free to give its citizens the benefit of [the U.S. Supreme Court‟s] rule in any fashion that does not offend federal law." Id. Danforth clarified that it is acceptable for states to give broader protection to defendants by applying state retroactivity law in state post-conviction proceedings. Id. at 1046. This Court must now decide whether it will give retroactive effect to the rule pronounced in Ring in state post-conviction proceedings in cases that were final on direct review when Ring was announced.
The first issue presented in this case is what standard this Court should use to decide whether Idaho courts will retroactively apply new rules of federal constitutional law in post-conviction proceedings. Petitioners, who contend that the State violated their rights under the Sixth Amendment when a judge sentenced them to death instead of a jury, ask this Court to employ Idaho‟s traditional three-part retroactivity test based upon Linkletter v. Walker, 381 U.S. 618 (1965), which this Court adopted in Thompson v. Hagan, 96 Idaho 19, 25, 523 P.2d 1365, 1371 (1974).*fn1 The State argues that this Court should dismiss the instant appeals pursuant to I.C. § 19-2719(5)(c), or, in the alternative, that the Court should adopt the federal retroactivity standard of Teague, which bars the retroactive application of Ring. Petitioners urge this Court to find that I.C. § 19-2719(5)(c) is unconstitutional.
We expressly adopt the retroactivity test from Teague for criminal cases on collateral review. We conclude that, applying the Teague standard, the rule announced in Ring will not be given retroactive application in the instant cases. Because we do not retroactively apply Ring, we decline to address whether I.C. § 19-2719(5)(c) requires this Court to dismiss Petitioners‟ appeals or whether the statute is unconstitutional. In order to clarify the standards by which we evaluate whether new rules of law are to be given retroactive effect, we examine federal decisions addressing retroactivity, other states‟ analyses of retroactivity since Danforth and our past decisions considering retroactivity.
A. Federal Retroactivity Decisions
The U.S. Supreme Court expressly considered the issue of retroactivity for the first time in Linkletter. Danforth, 128 U.S. at 1036. The Court held that courts should determine the retroactive effect of each new rule on a case-by-case basis by weighing the purpose of the rule and the reliance of the States on the prior law against the effect on the administration of justice of retroactive application of the rule. Id. at 1036-37. This Court adopted the Linkletter retroactivity analysis in Thompson, 96 Idaho at 25, 523 P.2d at 1371. The Linkletter test was criticized by scholars and members of the U.S. Supreme Court. Danforth, 128 U.S. at 1037. Justice Harlan noted that application of the Linkletter test produced different results depending on whether cases were subject to direct review, whether trials had commenced, whether tainted evidence had yet to be introduced at trial and other factors. Id. (citing Desist v. U.S., 394 U.S. 244, 257 (1969) (Harlan, J., dissenting)). This led the U.S. Supreme Court to characterize the Linkletter approach as "unprincipled and inequitable" in Griffith v. Kentucky, 479 U.S. 314 (1987). Id.
A plurality of the Court in Teague adopted a new retroactivity approach. Id. Teague was later adopted by a majority of the Court. Penry v. Lynaugh, 492 U.S. 302 (1989), overruled on other grounds by Adkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002). Under Teague, new constitutional rules of criminal procedure are not applicable to those cases that have become final before the new rules are announced. Danforth, 128 U.S. at 1037-38 (quoting Teague, 489 U.S. at 310). There are two exceptions to this rule: rules that render types of primary conduct beyond the power of the criminal law-making authority to proscribe and watershed rules that implicate the fundamental fairness of the trial. Id. (quotations and citations omitted). This Court continued to use the Linkletter approach long after the U.S. Supreme Court abandoned it, most recently in BHA Investments v. City of Boise, ...