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Lockhart v. Nelson

United States Supreme Court
488 U.S. 33 (1988)


Johnny Lee Nelson (defendant) pled guilty to burglary, a felony. At the sentencing hearing, the prosecution introduced evidence of Nelson’s four prior felony convictions. As a result, the jury imposed an enhanced sentence under an Arkansas law providing for an enhanced sentence after four prior felony convictions. Unbeknownst to the prosecution or the defense at the time of the hearing, one of the four convictions introduced had been pardoned by the governor. Nelson appealed based on the pardon, but his appeal was denied. Nelson filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in federal district court. The district court invalidated the enhanced sentence. The state then proposed to resentence Nelson under Arkansas’s habitual offender law, using a different prior felony conviction that the state had not proffered at the sentencing hearing. Nelson objected on double jeopardy grounds. The district court found that the Double Jeopardy Clause precluded the state’s proposed resentencing. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Rehnquist, C.J.)

Dissent (Marshall, J.)

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