New Rule Principle Law and Legal Definition
New rule principle is a rule of criminal law that bars federal courts from granting habeas corpus relief to a state prisoner based on a rule announced after the prisoner's conviction and sentence became final. The new rule principle validates reasonable, good-faith interpretations of existing precedents made by state courts and thus effectuates the states' interest in the finality of criminal convictions and fosters comity between federal and state courts. There are two exceptions to this rule. The first exception is for new rules that place certain kinds of primary, private individual conduct beyond the power of the criminal law-making authority to proscribe; the second exception is for watershed rules of criminal procedure implicating the fundamental fairness and accuracy of the criminal proceeding. [Caspari v. Bohlen, 510 U.S. 383 (U.S. 1994)].
A case decided after a petitioner's conviction and sentence became final may not be the predicate for federal habeas corpus relief unless the decision was dictated by precedent existing when the judgment in question became final. When a petitioner seeks federal habeas relief based upon a principle announced after a final judgment, it requires a federal court to answer an initial question, and in some cases a second. First, it must be determined whether the decision relied upon announced a new rule. If the answer is yes and neither exception applies, the decision is not available to the petitioner. If, however, the decision did not announce a new rule, it is necessary to inquire whether granting the relief sought would create a new rule because the prior decision is applied in a novel setting, thereby extending the precedent. [Stringer v. Black, 503 U.S. 222 (U.S. 1992)]