Shoop v. Twyford

Justia Summary

Twyford was convicted of aggravated murder and was sentenced to death. Ohio courts affirmed his conviction and sentence, then denied post-conviction relief, rejecting Twyford’s claim that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to present evidence of a head injury Twyford had sustained. The district court dismissed most of Twyford’s federal habeas claims but allowed others to proceed and ordered the state to transport him to a medical facility for neurological testing that might lead to evidence to support his claim. The court cited the All Writs Act, which authorizes federal courts to “issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions.” 28 U.S.C. 1651(a). The Sixth Circuit affirmed.

The Supreme Court reversed. A transportation order that allows a prisoner to search for new evidence is not “necessary or appropriate in aid of” a federal court’s adjudication of a habeas corpus action when the prisoner has not shown that the desired evidence would be admissible in connection with a claim for relief. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) restricts the ability of a federal habeas court to develop and consider new evidence: Before a federal court may decide whether to grant an evidentiary hearing or “otherwise consider new evidence” under 28 U.S.C. 2254(e)(2), it must first determine that such evidence could be legally considered in the prisoner’s case. The All Writs Act cannot be used to circumvent statutory requirements or binding procedural rules. Twyford never explained how the results of neurological testing could be admissible in his habeas proceedings, given that AEDPA review is limited to “the record that was before the state court.”