ANDERSON V. HARLESS, 459 U. S. 4 (1982)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Anderson v. Harless, 459 U.S. 4 (1982)

Anderson v. Harless

No. 81-2066

Decided November 1, 1982

459 U.S. 4


Respondent was convicted of first-degree murder after a jury trial in a Michigan state court, and the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed. The Michigan Supreme Court, on review of the record, denied relief. Respondent then obtained habeas corpus relief in Federal District Court, which held that the trial court's jury instruction allowing malice to be implied from the fact that a weapon was used unconstitutionally shifted the burden of proof to respondent and was inconsistent with the presumption of innocence. The District Court also held that respondent had exhausted available state court remedies, as required by 28 U.S.C. § 2254. The Federal Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the exhaustion requirement was met because respondent had presented to the Michigan Court of Appeals the facts on which he based his federal claim, had argued that the malice instruction was "reversible error," and had cited People v. Martin, 392 Mich. 553, 221 N.W.2d 33, -- a decision predicated solely on state law, but in which the defendant had argued broadly that failure to properly instruct a jury violates the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Held: The requirement under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 that the state courts must have been provided a "fair opportunity" to apply controlling legal principles to the facts bearing upon the federal habeas petitioner's constitutional claim was not met here. The "substance" of respondent's federal habeas corpus claim was not fairly presented to the state courts so as to meet § 2254's exhaustion requirement. The Michigan Court of Appeals interpreted respondent's claim as being predicated on the state law rule of Martin, supra, that malice should not be implied from the fact that a weapon was used, and the record shows that respondent's constitutional argument was never presented to, or considered by, the Michigan courts.

Certiorari granted; 664 F.2d 610, reversed and remanded.

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