STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN SUPREME COURT
Court of Appeals
G. Barry, J.
Stephen Danforth, petitioner,
Filed: July 27, 2006
of Appellate Courts
State of Minnesota,
L L A B U S
1. As stated in State v. Houston, 702 N.W.2d 268, 270 (Minn. 2005), this court applies
the framework of Teague v. Lane, 489
U.S. 288 (1989), when determining the extent of retroactive application of a decision
of the United States Supreme Court announcing a rule of federal constitutional
541 U.S. 36 (2004), established a new rule of federal constitutional criminal
procedure that is not within either exception to the general rule of Teague.
Consequently, appellant, whose case was final at the time Crawford was decided, is not entitled to
have Crawford applied retroactively
to his case.
considered, and decided by the court en banc.
I N I O N
ANDERSON, G. Barry, Justice.
Danforth was convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, Minn. Stat. §
609.342, subd. 1(a) (2004), on March 6, 1996.
This conviction arose out of the sexual abuse of J.S., a 6-year-old
boy. J.S. was found incompetent to
testify at trial, but a videotaped interview of J.S. conducted at a non-profit
center was admitted into evidence. On
appeal, the court of appeals affirmed Danforth’s conviction but remanded for
resentencing. State v. Danforth, 573 N.W.2d 369, 371
(Minn. App. 1997) (Danforth I), rev. denied (Minn. Feb. 19, 1998). On remand, Danforth was sentenced to
imprisonment for 316 months. The court of
appeals affirmed this sentence on appeal. State v. Danforth, No. C5-98-2054, 1999
WL 262143, at *1 (Minn. App. May 4, 1999) (Danforth
II), rev. denied (Minn. July 28,
1999). Alleging various trial errors,
Danforth filed a petition for postconviction relief. The postconviction court denied the petition
and the court of appeals affirmed. Danforth v. State, No. C6-00-699, 2000 WL
1780244, at *1 (Minn. App. Dec. 5, 2000) (Danforth
III), rev. denied (Minn. Feb. 13, 2001).
After the Supreme
Court’s decisions in Crawford v.
Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004),and
Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296
(2004), Danforth filed a second petition for postconviction relief alleging he
was entitled to relief based on the rules established by those cases. The postconviction court denied Danforth
relief, finding that neither Crawford nor
Blakely applied retroactively to
Danforth’s case; the court of appeals affirmed.
Danforth v. State, 700 N.W.2d
530, 532 (Minn.
App. 2005) (Danforth IV). We granted review of the Crawford issue only and requested that the Office of the State
Public Defender represent Danforth on this appeal.
that this court is free to apply a broader retroactivity standard than that of Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288 (1989), and
that he is entitled to the benefit of Crawford
under state retroactivity
principles. He also argues that, even
using the framework of Teague, Crawford should be retroactively applied
to his case. We reaffirm our holding in State v. Houston, 702 N.W.2d 268, 270 (Minn. 2005), that we are
required to apply Teague’s principles
when analyzing the retroactivity of a rule of federal constitutional criminal
procedure. Because we conclude that,
under Teague, Crawford does not apply retroactively to Danforth’s case, we
We recently held that the retroactivity
principles of Teague control when
determining the retroactive effect of a federal constitutional rule of criminal
Houston, 702 N.W.2d at
270. Under Teague, a new rule is usually not retroactively applicable to a
defendant’s case once the defendant’s case has become final.
Teague, 489 U.S.
at 310 (plurality opinion). It is undisputed that Danforth’s case was final
before Crawford was decided.
For the first time in his brief to this court,
Danforth argues that this court is free to apply a broader retroactivity
standard than that in Teague and that
he is entitled to the benefit of Crawford
under stateretroactivity principles. We choose to
address this issue in the interests of justice.
We have stated
that, when dealing with a new rule of federal constitutional criminal
procedure, we are “compelled to follow the lead of the Supreme Court in
determining when a decision is to be afforded retroactive treatment.” O’Meara
v. State, 679 N.W.2d 334, 339 (Minn.
2004). This conclusion is based on American Trucking Associations, Inc. v.
Smith, in which a plurality of the Supreme Court stated that the
retroactive effect of its federal constitutional decisions is a question of
federal law and that the Court has “consistently required that state courts
adhere to [the Court’s] retroactivity decisions.” 496 U.S.
167, 177-78 (1990) (plurality opinion); see
Ashland Oil, Inc. v. Caryl, 497 U.S. 916, 918 (1990). In
applied O’Meara’s principles to hold
that we must follow the Teague framework when determining
whether a postconviction petitioner is entitled to have a new rule of federal
constitutional criminal procedure applied retroactively to his or her
case. Houston,702 N.W.2d at 270.
is not the only state to have determined that a Teague analysis is required when determining whether a new rule of
federal constitutional criminal procedure can be applied retroactively to cases
on state postconviction review. See Page v. Palmateer, 84 P.3d 133,
134-38 (Or. 2004).
argues that Teague dictates the
limits of retroactive application of new rules only in federal habeas corpus proceedings and does not limit the
retroactive application of new rules in
state postconviction proceedings.
Danforth is incorrect when he asserts that state courts are free to give
a Supreme Court decision of federal constitutional criminal procedurebroader retroactive application than
that given by the Supreme Court. In
American Trucking Associations, the plurality rested its retroactivity
analysis in part on Michigan v. Payne,
412 U.S. 47 (1973). Am. Trucking Ass’ns, Inc., 496 U.S. at 178. In
Payne, the Court reversed the decision of the Michigan Supreme Court, which
had applied North
Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711 (1969), retroactively to
Payne’s case, and held that Pearce
would not apply to errors occurring before
Pearce was decided. Payne, 412 U.S. 49, 57.
In light of Payne and American Trucking Associations, we cannot apply state
retroactivity principles when determining the retroactivity of a new rule of
federal constitutional criminal procedure if the Supreme Court has already
provided relevant federal principles.
While the Supreme Court has not explicitly addressed retroactivity
principles instatepostconvictionproceedings, the Court has drawn a line between cases that are “pending
on direct review,” and cases that are “final.”
See Schriro v. Summerlin, 542 U.S. 348,
351 (2004) (“When a decision of this Court results in a ‘new rule,’ that rule
applies to all criminal cases still
pending on direct review. As to
convictions that are already final, however, the rule applies only in
limited circumstances.” (citation omitted) (emphasis added)). Once a case is “final,” a new rule of federal
constitutional criminal procedure can be retroactively applied to the case only
if retroactive application is warranted under the Teague framework. Schriro, 542 U.S. at 351-52. The Court, therefore, has created a
retroactivity framework with only two procedural categories of cases: (1) those
on direct review and (2) those that are final.
Since we have already concluded that a petition for postconviction
relief does not constitute “direct review,” see
702 N.W.2d at 270, and it is undisputed that Danforth’s case was final at the
time ofthe Crawford decision, we must apply
Teague when determining whether
Crawford can be retroactively applied to Danforth’s case.
We are aware that
other states have declined to apply
Teague or have emphasized that they apply Teague as a matter of choice when determining the retroactivity of
new rules of federal constitutional criminal procedure in state postconviction
proceedings. See Daniels v. State, 561 N.E.2d 487, 489 (Ind.
1990); State ex rel. Taylor
v. Whitley, 606 So.2d 1292, 1296-97 (La.
1992); State v. Whitfield, 107 S.W.3d
253, 266-68 (Mo. 2003); Colwell v. State, 59 P.3d 463, 470-71 (Nev. 2002); Cowell v. Leapley, 458 N.W.2d 514, 517-18 (S.D. 1990). The principal rationales given in these
decisions are: (1) a state may give a new rule of federal constitutional
criminal procedure greater retroactive effect than that given by the Supreme
Court and (2) state postconviction proceedings involve different interests than
federal habeas proceedings. See Whitfield, 107 S.W.3d at 267-68; Colwell, 59 P.3d at 470-71; Cowell, 458 N.W.2d at 517-18. Teague’s
framework is based, in part, on concerns unique to federal habeas corpus
decisions. See Teague, 489 U.S.
at 308 (“[W]e have recognized that interests of comity and finality must also be considered in determining the
proper scope of habeas review.” (emphasis added)). Notwithstanding these different policy
concerns, in light of Payne, American Trucking Associations, and the
dichotomy drawn by Teague between
cases on “direct review” and “final” cases, we reaffirm our decision in
Houstonand conclude that we are not free to
fashion our own standard of retroactivity for Crawford. Therefore, the
retroactivity of Crawford to Danforth’s
case must be analyzed under Teague.
that, even using a Teague analysis, Crawford applies retroactively to his
case because: (1) Crawford did not
announce a “new” rule and, alternatively, (2) Crawford established a “watershed rule” of criminal procedure and
therefore is fully retroactive under an exception to Teague’s general rule. Whether
Crawford applies retroactively to
cases final at the time Crawford was
decided is a purely legal issue reviewed de novo. See Houston, 702 N.W.2d at 270. We address each of Danforth’s arguments in turn.
Under Teague, we inquire “whether the rule of
federal constitutional criminal procedure is new, or whether it is merely a
predictable extension of a pre-existing doctrine.” Houston, 702
N.W.2d at 270. If the rule is “new,” it generally will
not be applicable to cases that became final before the rule was
announced. Teague, 489 U.S.
at 310. Danforth argues that Crawford did not announce a new rule of
constitutional procedure but that Crawford’sdecision was “dictated by precedent
dating back to the 1800s.” The state,
citing the decisions of several federal circuit courts on this issue, argues
that holding that Crawford
established a new rule is the better-reasoned position.
Crawford’s “holding constitutes a ‘new
rule’ within the meaning of Teague if
it ‘breaks new ground,’ ‘imposes a new obligation on the States or the Federal Government,’
or was not ‘dictated by precedent
existing at the time the defendant’s conviction became final.’” See Graham
v. Collins, 506 U.S.
461, 467 (1993) (quoting Teague, 489 U.S.
at 301). Teague’s limit on the retroactivity of new rules of constitutional
procedure “validates reasonable, good-faith interpretations of existing precedents
made by state courts even though they are shown to be contrary to later
decisions.” Butler v.
McKellar, 494 U.S.
407, 414 (1990). As we have stated, the
test to determine whether a rule of procedure is “new” for Teague purposes is not whether the rule “is logically an extension
of some precedent,” but rather “whether ‘reasonable jurists hearing petitioner’s
claim at the time his conviction became final would have felt compelled by existing precedent to rule
in his favor.’” Houston,
702 N.W.2d at 271 (quoting Graham,
at 467) (emphasis added) (internal quotation omitted)). This test is meant “to ensure that gradual
developments in the law over which reasonable jurists may disagree are not
later used to upset the finality of state convictions valid when entered.”
Sawyer v. Smith, 497 U.S.
227, 234 (1990).
principles to this case,we examine
the change Crawford worked on the
legal landscape. As we have stated,
prior to Crawford, the admissibility
of an out-of-court statement under the Confrontation Clause was guided by Ohio v. Roberts, 448 U.S. 56 (1980), abrogated by Crawford, 541 U.S. 36.
See State v.
Bobadilla, 709 N.W.2d 243, 248 (Minn.
2006). Under Roberts, a hearsay statement could be admitted without violating a
defendant’s rights under the Confrontation Clause if: (1) the declarant was
unavailable at trial and(2) the
statement bore “adequate ‘indicia of reliability.’” 448 U.S. at 66. Sufficient reliability was inferred when the
evidence fell “within a firmly rooted hearsay exception.” Id. If the evidence did not fall within such an
exception, it was only admissible upon “a showing of particularized guarantees
of trustworthiness.” Id.
Crawford “significantly altered the
rules governing the admissibility of testimonial out-of-court statements
against criminal defendants at trial.” Wright, 701 N.W.2d at 808. Stating that the Roberts test had a “demonstrated capacity” to admit statements in
contravention of the Confrontation Clause, the Supreme Court held that “testimonial”
evidence is inadmissible unless the witness is unavailable and the defendant
had a prior opportunity to cross-examine the witness. See Crawford, 541 U.S.
at 53-54, 63, 68. The Court declined to
provide a complete definition of “testimonial,” but stated that the term
covered, “at a minimum, * * * prior testimony at a preliminary hearing, before
a grand jury, or at a former trial[,] and * * * police interrogations.”
The rule in Crawford,
therefore,was not compelled by Roberts—Crawford replaced the more flexible reliability inquiry of Roberts with a bright-line rule for a
certain class of hearsay statements.
Nonetheless, Danforth argues that
Crawford did not announce a new rule because “the Supreme Court has always
held that testimonial statements made without cross-examination were
inadmissible under the Confrontation Clause.”
This argument rests on the fact that Crawford
based its rule on the “Framers’ understanding” of the Confrontation Clause, see 541 U.S. at 59, 68, and the Court’s
statement that “the results of our [prior] decisions have generally been
faithful to the original meaning of the Confrontation Clause,” id. at 60.
Danforth’s argument is flawed because it
misconstrues the test governing whether a rule is new for Teague purposes. We do not
ask whether Crawford’s rule is
faithful to the original meaning of the Confrontation Clause or whether the
results of relevant Supreme Court precedent are consistent with the rule in Crawford. Instead, we ask “whether ‘reasonable jurists
hearing petitioner’s claim at the time his conviction became final would have
felt compelled by existing precedent
to rule in his favor.’” Houston,
702 N.W.2d at 271 (quoting Graham,
at 467 (emphasis added) (internal quotation omitted)). As noted earlier, prior to Crawford, Roberts guided a court’s inquiry concerning whether the admission
of an out-of-court statement violated the Confrontation Clause. Bobadilla,
709 N.W.2d at 248; see also State v. King,
622 N.W.2d 800, 807 (Minn.
2001). Put another way, Danforth’s
argument requires “reasonable jurists” to have foreseen Crawford’ssignificant
modification—if not outright overruling—of Roberts. When conducting an analysis under Teague, the Supreme Court has never
required such prescience of lower courts.
Furthermore, such a requirement would not “validate reasonable,
good-faith interpretations of existing precedents made by state courts even
though they are shown to be contrary to later decisions.” Butler,
at 414. Consequently, Crawford established a new rule of
federal constitutional criminal procedure for the purposes of Teague.
There are two exceptions to Teague’s general rule that new rules of federal constitutional
criminal procedure are not retroactively applicable to cases that were final
when that new rule was announced. Teague, 489 U.S. at 311. The first exception
establishes that Teague’s “bar does
not apply to rules forbidding punishment ‘of certain primary conduct [or to]
rules prohibiting a certain category of punishment for a class of defendants
because of their status or offense.’” Beard v. Banks, 542 U.S. 406, 416 (2004) (quoting Penry v. Lynaugh, 492 U.S. 302, 330 (1989)). The second exception, which is “known as the ‘watershed
rule’ exception, applies when the new rule ‘requires the observance of those
procedures that * * * are implicit in the concept of ordered liberty’ or ‘alter
our understanding of the bedrock
procedural elements that must be found to vitiate the fairness of any
particular conviction.’” Houston,
702 N.W.2d at 270-71 (quoting Teague,
at 311). Danforth argues that, if Crawford established a new rule for Teague purposes, the rule is a “watershed
rule” within Teague’s second
exception. The state argues, and the
court of appeals held, that the rule established by Crawford does not fall within this narrow exception. Danforth
IV, 700 N.W.2d at 531-32.
Since the Supreme Court adopted the Teague framework, it has yet to find a
new rule of federal constitutional criminal procedure that qualifies as a “watershed
rule.” Such a rule “must be one without
which ‘the likelihood of an accurate conviction is seriously diminished.’”
Houston, 702 N.W.2d at 273 (quoting Teague, 489 U.S. at 313). A watershed rule must do more than simply
improve the accuracy of a proceeding; it must be “essential to fundamental
fairness of a proceeding.” Id. The only rule that the Supreme Court has
stated would fall within this exception is the right to trial counsel
established by Gideon v. Wainright,
372 U.S. 335 (1963). Beard, 542 U.S. at 417. These rules are extremely rare, and the
Supreme Court recently stated that it is unlikely any watershed rules have yet
to be announced. Schriro, 542 U.S. at 352.
The rule announced in Crawford cannot meet the stringent requirements of this
exception. First, Crawford imposed a bright line rule of exclusion for a certain
class of hearsay statements based on the original intent of the Confrontation
Clause. See 541 U.S.
at 59, 68. Even when dealing with a fundamental
right, the appropriate inquiry under
Teague is not whether the new rule reflects the framers’ intent, but
whether jurisprudence under the “old rule” seriously diminished the accuracy of
a criminal proceeding. See Schriro, 542 U.S. at
355-56. Given that, prior to Crawford,Confrontation Clause jurisprudence focused on the reliability of
out-of-court statements, see Roberts,
at 66, the likelihood of obtaining an accurate conviction is not seriously diminished
in the absence of the rule established by
Crawford. Indeed, the Supreme Court
has indicated that some new rules of criminal procedure, though
constitutionally based, may actually decrease the likelihood of an accurate
determination of guilt or innocence. See Butler, 494 U.S. at 411, 416 (stating that a violation of the procedural rule in Arizona v. Roberson, 486 U.S. 675 (1988),
may increase the likelihood of an
accurate determination of guilt or innocence).
The same argument could be made here, for while in some cases a Crawford violation would decrease the
likelihood of an accurate determination of guilt or innocence (i.e., admitting
an unreliable statement), in other cases statements admissible under the Roberts test but excluded under the Crawford test would be highly reliable
and helpful to the jury’s determination.
While the additional protectionsof
Crawford effectuate the original
meaning of the Sixth Amendment, the absence of Crawford’s bright line rule would not “seriously diminish the
likelihood of obtaining an accurate determination” of innocence or guilt. See
Butler, 494 U.S.
Similarly, the Supreme Court has also looked at
pre-existing protections for defendants when examining whether a new procedural
rule is an “‘absolute prerequisite to fundamental fairness’” as required by Teague’s second exception. See
Sawyer, 497 U.S. at 243-44
(quoting Teague, 489 U.S. at 314). Given the pre-existing Confrontation Clause
protections for defendants under Roberts,
Crawford’s rule is not “essential to
the fundamental fairness of a proceeding.” Houston,
702 N.W.2d at 273.
For all of the above reasons, the rule established
by Crawford does not qualify as a “watershed
rule” for the purposes of Teague’s
second exception. Therefore, Crawford established a new rule of federal constitutional criminal
procedure that is not within one of
Teague’s exceptions and, given that Danforth’s case was final at the time
of the Crawford decision, Danforth
cannot receive the retroactive application of Crawford to his case.