The United States Supreme Court Receded from 'Linkletter' Factors Due to Their Malleability

In Linkletter v. Walker, 381 U.S. 618, 14 L. Ed. 2d 601, 85 S. Ct. 1731 (1965), the United States Supreme Court had adopted a three-part test for retroactivity that considered (a) the purpose to be served by the new rule, (b) the extent of reliance on the prior rule, and (c) the effect that retroactive application of the new rule would have on the administration of justice. Id. at 636-40. The Court directly incorporated those three factors into our own analysis in Witt. 387 So. 2d at 929. The Court also held that rules would be retroactive if they "placed beyond the authority of the state the power to regulate certain conduct or impose certain penalties." Id. Less than a decade after we adopted the Linkletter approach, the United States Supreme Court receded from it. In Teague v. Lane, a plurality of the Court recognized that "the Linkletter retroactivity standard has not led to consistent results," 489 U.S. at 302, and that "commentators have 'had a veritable field day' with the Linkletter standard, with much of the discussion being 'more than mildly negative.'" Id. at 303. The primary problem with the Linkletter factors was their malleability. They were difficult for courts to apply consistently, and thus produced an "unfortunate disparity in the treatment of similarly situated defendants on collateral review." Id. at 305. They also gave insufficient weight to the interest of finality. Id. at 310.