On December 8, 2009, the Supreme Court announced its decision in Beard v. Kindler. This case concerns the adequate state ground doctrine, which, among other things, precludes habeas review of a conviction that rests on an adequate state ground. The question in this case was whether applications of a state rule may constitute an adequate state ground even though, under the relevant state rule, dismissal of these motions is discretionary rather than mandatory.
Chief Justice Roberts delivered the opinion of the Court, in which all of the other Justices joined, except Justice Alito, who took no part in the consideration or decision of the case. The Court held that a state procedural rule is not automatically "inadequate" under the adequate state ground doctrine – and therefore unenforceable on federal habeas review – because the state rule is discretionary rather than mandatory. Justice Kennedy filed a concurring opinion that Justice Thomas joined.
To discuss the case, we have Southern University Law Center Professor Michelle R. Ghetti.