Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

1983 Action Deemed Successive Habeas Petition; Reversed by Supreme Court

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action, alleging that death by lethal injection causes pain and unnecessary suffering that constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, is the "functional equivalent" of a habeas claim.

The ruling comes in an action by Florida death row prisoner Clarence Hill, who was scheduled to be executed on the date of the Court's order, January 20, 2006. He had previously been denied habeas relief. His request to file a second and successive habeas petition to forestall his execution was denied earlier that day.

The Florida federal district court dismissed Hill's § 1983 action on the basis that it had no jurisdiction because Hill's claim was "the functional equivalent of a successive habeas petition" that required the appellate court to grant leave to file a successive petition.

The Eleventh Circuit noted it had previously ruled on "the very issue" that Hill was raising. See: Robinson v. Crosby, 358 F.3d 1281 (11th Cir. 2004). The district court's order was therefore affirmed. See: Hill v. Crosby, 437 F.3d 1084 (11th Cir. 2006).

Certiorari was granted and the U.S. Supreme Court reversed, holding that Hill's claim was properly cognizable as a § 1983 action and thus not subject to dismissal as a successive habeas petition. However, the Court further held that Hill still had to satisfy all requirements for a stay of execution, including a showing of a significant possibility of success on the merits of his challenge. See: Hill v. McDonough, 126 S.Ct. 2096, 165 L.Ed.2d 44 (2006).

Upon remand to the district court, Hill's petition was ultimately dismissed and the dismissal was upheld on appeal. Hill was executed on Sept. 20, 2006.

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal cases

Hill v. Crosby

Hill v. McDonough