Despite this, Judge Knight was no bleeding heart--god forbid that you had a client convicted of a violent offense in front of him for sentencing--but he did have a very developed theory of punishment that minimized victimless crimes. He was an armed services veteran who had worked his way through law school (as either a librarian or in the post office) and eventually became a partner in one of the big downtown law firms (Fowler White?). Despite his well-documented problems, he was one of the most intellectually gifted and hardest working judges who have ever served in the Justice Building. And he had a great sense of humor. Once, around Christmas time, a young female defendant, represented by Sy Gaer, said to the Judge "you look just like Santa Claus" As Judge Knight smiled (trying to look even more like Santa Claus), Sy said to his client, "but wait until you see what he has as a present for you." The whole courtroom--including Judge Knight--cracked up.
a federal court may not grant habeas relief to a state prisoner with respect to any claim that has been “adjudicated on the merits in State court proceedings” unless the state-court adjudication “resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as deter- mined by the Supreme Court of the United States.” 28 U. S. C. §2254(d)(1). We consider whether “clearly estab- lished Federal law” includes decisions of this Court that are announced after the last adjudication of the merits in state court but before the defendant’s conviction becomes final...
We have said that its standard of “contrary to, or involv[ing] an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law” is “difficult to meet,” because the purpose of AEDPA is to ensure that federal habeas relief functions as a “ ‘guard against extreme malfunctions in the state criminal justice systems,’” and not as a means of error correction...
The retro- activity rules that govern federal habeas review on the merits—which include Teague—are quite separate from the relitigation bar i
mposed by AEDPA; neither abrogates or qualifies the other. If §2254(d)(1) was, indeed, pegged to Teague, it would authorize relief when a state-court merits adjudication “resulted in a decision that became contrary to, or an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, before the conviction became final.” The statute says no such thing, and we see no reason why Teague should alter AEDPA’s plain meaning.
The weather is beautiful. Enjoy your weekend.