U.S. Supreme Court
Maggio v. Williams, 464 U.S. 46 (1983)
Maggio v. Williams
Decided November 7, 1983
464 U.S. 46
Respondent's state court murder conviction and death sentence were affirmed by the Louisiana Supreme Court, and this Court denied his petition for certiorari and request for rehearing. After he unsuccessfully sought habeas corpus relief in the state courts, respondent filed his first federal court petition for habeas corpus presenting the same issues that had proved unavailing in the state courts. The District Court denied the petition, the Court of Appeals affirmed, and this Court again denied certiorari and a request for a rehearing. Respondent unsuccessfully renewed his attempt to win relief in the state courts, and then filed a second petition for habeas corpus in the District Court, raising two claims that had previously been rejected and two additional claims. The court refused to grant the writ or to stay respondent's execution. The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment -- finding respondent's claims to be without merit -- but issued a stay of execution pending either this Court's anticipated review of the law concerning state court procedures for review of the "proportionality" of death sentences, or this Court's "further directions."
Held: The stay was improvidently entered by the Court of Appeals. The standard for determining whether a court of appeals' stay pending disposition of a petition for certiorari should continue in effect is whether there exists a reasonable probability that four Members of this Court will consider the underlying issue sufficiently meritorious for the grant of certiorari. None of respondent's claims -- challenging the constitutionality of (1) the Louisiana Supreme Court's review of the proportionality of his death sentence on a districtwide, rather than a statewide, basis, (2) the prosecutor's closing argument, (3) the trial court's instruction on lesser offenses, and (4) the exclusion for cause of certain veniremen, thus depriving respondent of a "representative" jury -- warrant certiorari and plenary consideration. The arguments that respondent raised for the first time in these proceedings are insubstantial, and the arguments that he has attempted to relitigate are no more persuasive now than they were when they were first rejected.
Application to vacate stay granted.