The Supreme Court used its first opinion of the new term on Tuesday to uphold the murder conviction of a man in a Pennsylvania grocery store shooting.
The high court on Tuesday upheld Eric Greene's conviction in the 1993 shooting death of the owner of a grocery store in North Philadelphia.
Greene had complained that the confessions of some of the men who were with him at the time of the shooting should not have been introduced at his trial since they were not testifying. The introduction of those redacted confessions violated his right to confront his accusers, Greene said.
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld his conviction, despite the fact that the Supreme Court had decided a similar case in 1998 that would have supported Greene's claim.
The Supreme Court, which heard arguments on this case in October, unanimously agreed with the lower court. The 1998 decision in Gray v. Maryland came after the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled on Greene's case, noted Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the term's first opinion of an argued case.
"Federal courts may measure state-court decisions only against Supreme Court precedents that existed when the state court ruled," Scalia said.
Scalia also said Greene missed two chances to use the Gray decision: once by not appealing directly to the Supreme Court after Pennsylvania's high court made its decision and again by not citing Gray in his state post-conviction claims. Instead, Greene tried to press his claims under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, Scalia said.
"Having forgone two obvious means of asserting his claim, Greene asks us to provide him relief by interpreting AEPDA in a manner contrary to both its text and our precedents. We decline to do so," he said.
The case is Greene v. Fisher, 10-637.