The Sixth Circuit’s decision in Ruelas v. Wolfenbarger, 580 F.3d 403 (6th Cir. 2009) acknowledged that this court’s seminal decision in Fry v. Pliler, 551 U.S. 112 (2007) did not overule Mitchell v. Esparza, 540 U.S. 12 (2003) (per curiam). In Ruelas, the Sixth Circuit held that a federal habeas court is free to apply the Esparza harmless error standard to determine whether a state court of appeals reasonably applied the Chapman harmless error standard on direct review. In the decision below, infra, App. 3a, the court of Appeals applied this standard. However, the Kentucky Supreme Court did not apply the Chapman harmless error standard on direct review.
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