« ForrigeFortsett »
Opinion of the Court
circumstances. See Loper v. Beto, 405 U. S. 473, 500-501 (1972) (REHNQUIST, J., dissenting). “The Due Process Clause does not, however, require a State to adopt one procedure over another on the basis that it may produce results more favorable to the accused.” Medina v. California, 505 U. S. 437, 451 (1992). When a defendant challenges the validity of a previous guilty plea, the government will not invariably, or perhaps even usually, have superior access to evidence. Indeed, when the plea was entered in another jurisdiction, the defendant may be the only witness who was actually present at the earlier proceeding. If raising a Boykin claim and pointing to a missing record suffices to place the entire burden of proof on the government, the prosecution will not infrequently be forced to expend considerable effort and expense attempting to reconstruct records from farflung States where procedures are unfamiliar and memories unreliable. To the extent that the government fails to carry its burden due to the staleness or unavailability of evidence, of course, its legitimate interest in differentially punishing repeat offenders is compromised. In light of the relative positions of the defendant and the prosecution in recidivism proceedings, we cannot say that it is fundamentally unfair to place at least a burden of production on the defendant.
Respondent cites no historical tradition or contemporary practice indicating that Kentucky's scheme violates due process. See Medina, supra, at 446, 447. For much of our history, it appears that state courts altogether prohibited defendants in recidivism proceedings from challenging prior convictions as erroneous, as opposed to void for lack of jurisdiction. See, e. g., Kelly v. People, 115 Ill. 583, 588, 4 N. E. 644, 645–646 (1886); accord, State v. Webb, 36 N. D. 235, 243, 162 N. W. 358, 361 (1917). In recent years state courts have permitted various challenges to prior convictions and have allocated proof burdens differently. Some, like the Sixth Circuit, evidently place the full burden on the prosecution.
Opinion of the Court
See, e. g., State v. Elling, 11 Ohio Misc. 2d 13, 15, 463 N. E. 2d 668, 670 (Com. Pl. 1983) (challenge to allegedly uncounseled conviction); State v. Hennings, 100 Wash. 2d 379, 382, 670 P. 2d 256, 257 (1983) (challenge to guilty plea). Others assign the entire burden to the defendant once the government has established the fact of conviction. See, e. g., People v. Harris, 61 N. Y. 2d 9, 15, 459 N. E. 2d 170, 172 (1983) (guilty plea); see also D. C. Code Ann. $ 23–111(c)(2) (1989); N. C. Gen. Stat. $ 15A-980(c) (1988). Several, like Kentucky, take a middle position that requires the defendant to produce evidence of invalidity once the fact of conviction is proved but that shifts the burden back to the prosecution once the defendant satisfies his burden of production. See, e. g., Watkins v. People, 655 P. 2d 834, 837 (Colo. 1982) (guilty plea); State v. O'Neil, 91 N. M. 727, 729, 580 P. 2d 495, 497 (Ct. App. 1978) (uncounseled conviction); State v. Triptow, 770 P. 2d 146, 149 (Utah 1989) (same). This range of contemporary state practice certainly does not suggest that allocating some burden to the defendant is fundamentally unfair.
Interpretations of analogous federal laws by the Courts of Appeals point even more strongly away from respondent's position. Under the Armed Career Criminal Act, 18 U. S. C. $ 924(e), Courts of Appeals have placed on the defendant the entire burden of proving the invalidity of a prior conviction based on a guilty plea. See, e. g., United States v. Gallman, 907 F. 2d 639, 643–645 (CA7 1990), cert. denied, 499 U. S. 908 (1991); accord, United States v. Paleo, 967 F. 2d 7, 13 (CA1 1992); United States v. Day, 949 F. 2d 973, 982–983 (CA8 1991); United States v. Ruo, 943 F. 2d 1274, 1276 (CA11 1991). Courts of Appeals have also allocated the full burden of proof to defendants claiming that an invalid guilty plea renders a prior conviction unavailable for purposes of calculating criminal history under the Sentencing Guidelines. See, e.g., United States v. Boyer, 931 F. 2d 1201, 1204–1205 (CA7), cert. denied, 502 U. S. 873 (1991). And the text of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970
Opinion of the Court
itself clearly provides that a defendant raising a constitutional challenge to a prior conviction used for sentence enhancement bears the burden of proof. See 21 U. S. C. $851(c)(2).
In sum, neither our precedents nor historical or contemporary practice compel the conclusion that Kentucky's burdenshifting rule violates due process, and we cannot say that the rule is fundamentally unfair in its operation. Accordingly, we hold that the Due Process Clause permits a State to impose a burden of production on a recidivism defendant who challenges the validity of a prior conviction under Boykin.
Petitioner also challenges the Sixth Circuit's holding that the prosecution's extrarecord evidence must be clear and convincing. In petitioner's view, the preponderance of the evidence standard applicable to constitutional claims raised on federal habeas, see, e. g., Johnson, 304 U. S., at 468–469, is appropriate. The Sixth Circuit based its conclusion to the contrary on Boykin, observing that an "extraordinary standard of persuasion” is justified “in view of misgivings inherent in 'collateral proceedings that seek to probe murky memories.”” Simmons, 877 F. 2d, at 1277 (quoting Boykin, 395 U. S., at 244); see also Roddy v. Black, 516 F. 2d 1380, 1384 (CA6), cert. denied, 423 U. S. 917 (1975). Respondent, in support of the Sixth Circuit's heightened standard, reiterates his arguments regarding the importance of the constitutional rights at stake and the government's position relative to the defendant's.
Our analysis of this question parallels our discussion of the proper allocation of proof burdens. Boykin did not address the question of measure of proof, and even if it had, it would not necessarily follow that the same standard should apply in recidivism proceedings. We find respondent's arguments no more persuasive here than they were in the allocation context. Given the difficulties of proof for both sides, it is
Opinion of the Court
not obvious to us that, once a State assigns the government the burden of persuasion, requiring anything less than clear and convincing extrinsic evidence is fundamentally unfair. Again, we are pointed to no historical tradition setting the standard of proof at this particular level. And contemporary practice is far from uniform; state courts that impose the ultimate burden on the government appear to demand proof ranging from preponderance, see Triptow, supra, at 149; Watkins, supra, at 837, to beyond a reasonable doubt, see Hennings, supra, at 382, 670 P. 2d, at 257. We are therefore unprepared to say that when the government carries the ultimate burden of persuasion and no transcript of the prior proceeding exists, the Due Process Clause requires the Commonwealth to prove the validity of the conviction by clear and convincing extrarecord evidence.
Respondent no longer challenges the validity of his 1979 plea. Thus, the final issue before us is whether the Kentucky courts properly concluded that respondent's 1981 guilty plea was valid. For the proper standard of review, petitioner cites Marshall v. Lonberger, 459 U. S. 422 (1983), a case quite similar to this one. In Lonberger, the state defendant challenged a prior conviction used to obtain a death sentence on the ground that the conviction was based on a guilty plea invalid under Boykin. We held that although “the governing standard as to whether a plea of guilty is voluntary for purposes of the Federal Constitution is a question of federal law,” 459 U. S., at 431, questions of historical fact, including inferences properly drawn from such facts, are in this context entitled to the presumption of correctness accorded state court factual findings under 28 U. S. C. $ 2254(d), Lonberger, supra, at 431-432; cf. Miller v. Fenton, 474 U. S. 104, 113, 115, 117 (1985) (holding that the question whether a confession is voluntary is subject to independent federal determination, expressly distinguishing Lonberger).
Opinion of the Court
We said that the federal habeas courts in Lonberger were bound to respect the contents of the record of the prior plea proceeding, the state trial court's findings that the defendant was "an intelligent individual, well experienced in the criminal processes and well represented at all stages of the proceedings by competent and capable counsel,” the similar conclusions of the state appellate court, and “inferences fairly deducible from these facts.” Lonberger, supra, at 435 (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Sumner v. Mata, 449 U. S. 539, 545–547 (1981) (deference owed to findings of both state trial and appellate courts).
We note that petitioner's theory of the case, which we have declined to consider, suggests a different standard. If Kentucky's procedure is indeed not constitutionally mandated, the Kentucky courts' determination that respondent understood his rights when he entered his plea would seem to be reviewable at most for sufficiency of the evidence under Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U. S. 307 (1979). There is no need to choose between the two standards of review in this case, however, because we are convinced that the Kentucky courts' factual determinations are “fairly supported by the record” within the meaning of 28 U. S. C. $ 2254d)(8).
The Kentucky Court of Appeals, reviewing the trial court's decision not to suppress the 1981 conviction, observed that respondent had an 11th grade education, could read adequately, was represented by counsel in the 1981 proceedings, and was in no way mentally impaired when he entered his plea. The court noted that respondent had signed a form specifying the charges to which he agreed to plead guilty. And it found that he had been fully advised of his rights in 1979. Respondent does not now dispute those determinations. The Kentucky Court of Appeals inferred that respondent remained aware in 1981 of the rights of which he was advised in 1979. Supporting that inference was the court's determination, based on respondent's testimony at the trial court hearing, that his “knowledge and sophistica