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The Supreme Court issued one opinion in a criminal case today, Boulware v. United States, No. 06-1509, but it's really more of a tax case.

In the orders list, the Court asked for the views of the Solicitor General in a state-prisoner capital habeas case, Harbison v. Bell, No. 07-8521. That is an unusual order for this type of case. The Sixth Circuit opinion in the case is here. The case involves the use of Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to reopen a habeas case. Before 1996, the usual method was to file a successive habeas petition, but Congress cracked down hard on that practice in the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. The Court addressed Rule 60(b) in this context in Gonzalez v. Crosby in 2005.
Update: Three of Harbison's petitions are on the orders list today. Two of them, 07-8519 and 07-8520, were denied. We are informed that the third, on which the Court requested the views of the SG, deals with appointment of federal habeas counsel for state clemency proceedings. See 18 U.S.C. § 3599(e), added by P.L. 109-177 § 222(a). As this involves federal taxpayer dollars for a purely state proceeding, the involvement of the federal government makes more sense. It's an odd provision of the code, but nowhere in the Constitution does it say, "Congress shall make no odd laws."

Also from the Sixth, the Court denied certiorari in the Getsy case, previously noted several times in this blog, including here and here.

The Court also denied certiorari in the case of Alfaro v. California, No. 07-8483. Alfaro is one of the few women on California's death row. In 1990, she murdered 9-year-old Autumn Wallace in the course of committing a burglary and robbery. The Cal. Supreme opinion is here.

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Kent, I believe an issue about remuneration for federal PDs acting in state clemency proceedings popped up in the 10th Circuit a few years back.

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