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AL C. PARKE v. RICKY HAROLD RALEY

decided: December 1, 1992.

AL C. PARKE, WARDEN, PETITIONER
v.
RICKY HAROLD RALEY



ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT.

O'connor, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and White, Stevens, Scalia, Kennedy, Souter, and Thomas, JJ., joined. Blackmun, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment.

Author: O'connor

JUSTICE O'CONNOR delivered the opinion of the Court.

Kentucky's "Persistent felony offender sentencing" statute, Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. ยง 532.080 (Michie 1990), provides mandatory minimum sentences for repeat felons. Under Kentucky law, a defendant charged as a persistent felony offender may challenge prior convictions that form the basis of the charge on the ground that they are invalid. Respondent, who was indicted under the statute, claimed that two convictions offered against him were invalid under Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 238, 23 L. Ed. 2d 274, 89 S. Ct. 1709 (1969). The trial court, after a hearing, rejected this claim, and respondent was convicted and sentenced as a persistent felony offender. After exhausting his state remedies, respondent petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. The District Court denied relief, but the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ordered that the writ conditionally issue, concluding that the trial court proceedings were constitutionally infirm. As it comes to this Court, the question presented is whether Kentucky's procedure for determining a prior conviction's validity under Boykin violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because it does not require the government to carry the entire burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence when a transcript of the prior plea proceeding is unavailable.

I

In May 1986, the Commonwealth charged respondent Ricky Harold Raley with robbery and with being a persistent felony offender in the first degree.*fn1 The latter charge was based on two burglaries to which respondent had pleaded guilty in November 1979 and October 1981. Respondent never appealed his convictions for those crimes. He nevertheless moved to suppress them in the persistent felony offender proceeding, arguing that they were invalid under Boykin because the records did not contain transcripts of the plea proceedings and hence did not affirmatively show that respondent's guilty pleas were knowing and voluntary.

The trial court held a hearing according to procedures set forth in Commonwealth v. Gadd, 665 S.W.2d 915 (Ky. 1984), and Dunn v. Commonwealth, 703 S.W.2d 874 (Ky.), cert. denied, 479 U.S. 832, 93 L. Ed. 2d 67, 107 S. Ct. 121 (1986). In Gadd, the Supreme Court of Kentucky observed that the persistent felony offender statute requires that the prosecution prove only the fact of a previous conviction beyond a reasonable doubt; the Commonwealth need not also show that the conviction was validly obtained. 665 S.W.2d, at 917. But, citing Burgett v. Texas, 389 U.S. 109, 19 L. Ed. 2d 319, 88 S. Ct. 258 (1967), the court also held that defendants must be able to attack a prior conviction's invalidity. Ibid. Dunn v. Commonwealth clarified the procedures to be followed. When a defendant challenges a previous conviction through a suppression motion, the Commonwealth must prove the existence of the judgment on which it intends to rely. Once this is done, a presumption of regularity attaches, and the burden shifts to the defendant to produce evidence that his rights were infringed or some procedural irregularity occurred in the earlier proceeding. If the defendant refutes the presumption of regularity, the burden shifts back to the government affirmatively to show that the underlying judgment was entered in a manner that did, in fact, protect the defendant's rights. 703 S.W.2d, at 876.

After the prosecution filed certified copies of the prior judgments of conviction for burglary, both sides presented evidence about the earlier plea proceedings. Respondent testified that he had an eleventh grade education, that he read adequately, that he was not intoxicated or otherwise mentally impaired when he entered the challenged pleas, and that he was represented by counsel on both occasions. He remembered the trial judge in each case asking him whether his plea was voluntary, but he said he could not remember whether he was specifically told about the rights he waived by pleading guilty. The government's evidence showed that in the 1979 proceeding, respondent signed (though he later claimed not to have read) a "Plea of Guilty" form, which stated that he understood the charges against him, the maximum punishment he faced, his constitutional rights, and that a guilty plea waived those rights. The attorney who represented respondent in the first case verified his own signature on another part of the form indicating that he had fully explained respondent's rights to him. As to the 1981 plea, respondent acknowledged signing a form that specified the charges to which he agreed to plead guilty. He also admitted that the judge had at least advised him of his right to a jury trial.

Based on this evidence, the trial court denied respondent's suppression motion. Respondent then entered a conditional guilty plea on the robbery and the persistent felony offender counts, reserving the right to appeal the suppression determination. The trial court sentenced him to 5 years for robbery, enhanced to 10 because of the persistent felony offender conviction.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed. It found the totality of circumstances surrounding the 1979 plea sufficient to support a finding that the plea was knowing and voluntary. It also upheld use of the 1981 conviction. The court explained that respondent's knowledge of his rights in November 1979 permitted an inference that he remained aware of them 23 months later. Respondent's testimony, moreover, indicated that his sophistication regarding his legal rights had increased substantially after his first conviction. The Supreme Court of Kentucky denied discretionary review.

Respondent then filed a federal habeas petition, arguing that the Kentucky courts had erred in requiring him to adduce evidence, rather than requiring the Commonwealth affirmatively to prove the prior convictions' validity. The District Court denied the petition for essentially the same reasons given by the Kentucky Court of Appeals. Raley v. Parke, Civil Action No. C89-0756-L(A) (WD Ky., Mar. 15, 1990). The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, however, agreed with respondent, relying on its recent decision in Dunn v. Simmons, 877 F.2d 1275 (1989), cert. denied, 494 U.S. 1061, 108 L. Ed. 2d 778, 110 S. Ct. 1539 (1990). 945 F.2d 137 (1991). Simmons held that when no transcript of the prior guilty plea proceeding exists, the prosecution has the entire burden of establishing the plea's validity, and no presumption of regularity attaches to the final judgment. 877 F.2d, at 1277. It also held that when the prosecution seeks to demonstrate the regularity of the prior proceeding with extra-record evidence, that evidence must be "clear and convincing." Ibid. Although Simmons was decided after respondent's persistent felony offender conviction became final, the Commonwealth did not argue that Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288, 103 L. Ed. 2d 334, 109 S. Ct. 1060 (1989), barred its application to this case. Cf. Collins v. Youngblood, 497 U.S. 37, 40-41, 111 L. Ed. 2d 30, 110 S. Ct. 2715 (1990) (Teague not jurisdictional).

The Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's determination with respect to the 1979 plea but reversed with respect to the 1981 plea. It declined to infer that respondent remembered his rights from 1979, reasoning that such an inference would give rise to line-drawing problems and would discriminate improperly between accused recidivists and first offenders on the basis of prior court experience. The Court of Appeals observed that because the trial court hearing took place before Simmons was decided, the Commonwealth had not yet had an opportunity to try to meet the higher standard of proof that decision imposed. Thus, rather than issue the writ of habeas corpus outright, the Court of Appeals directed the District Court to grant the writ if Kentucky did not hold a new hearing on the validity of the 1981 conviction in compliance with Simmons within 90 days. We granted certiorari. 503 U.S. (1992).

I ...


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