Ronn Gehring


Tyler v. Cain is the latest decision in the ongoing evolution of the retroactivity doctrine in habeas corpus proceedings. The main issue this note presents is whether a state or federal inmate may apply a new constitutional rule promulgated by the Supreme Court retroactively on collateral review through a second or successive petition for habeas corpus, even though the rule was not applicable to the inmate’s original case. Under English common law, all new rules applied retroactively on both direct and collateral review. However, a divergence has occurred under American jurisprudence as to when new constitutional rules announced by the Court apply retroactively. Because of the divergence in American law, the doctrine of retroactivity has gradually taken shape over the past forty years, with the Court solidifying its stance in Tyler v. Cain.

This note explores the effect that Tyler v. Cain has on habeas corpus. More specifically, this note focuses on the Court’s interpretation of section 2244(b)(2)(A). Part II documents the evolution of the retroactivity doctrine. Next, Part III sets forth the facts, procedural history, and holding of Tyler v. Cain. Part IV, Sections A and B analyze the procedures inmates must follow under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) to file petitions for habeas corpus and the effect Tyler v. Cain has on this procedure. Finally, Part IV, Sections C and D explore the constitutionality of Tyler v. Cain.