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SCOTUS Notes

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The U.S. Supreme Court celebrated Tax Filing Day by filing two tax opinions. Lyle Denniston discusses them at SCOTUSblog.

This is also National Crime Victims' Rights Week. Perhaps the Court could celebrate that by deciding Baze v. Rees and bringing to an end the de facto moratorium on justice in the worst murder cases that the Court has imposed since last fall. Among the rights of victims of crime and their families is the right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay, and that includes federal habeas corpus. See 18 U.S.C. ยง 3771 (a)(7) & (b)(2)(A).

Speaking of delay, the high court yesterday denied certiorari in the case of Fields v. Ayers, No. 07-8724. Stevie Fields is on California's death row for a "one man crime wave" in 1978. His conviction and sentence were affirmed on direct appeal in 1983. Since then, there has been a quarter century of collateral review of a case with no question of guilt. A previous post on this exemplar of overdue process is here.

"The Supreme Court said Monday it would take up a Los Angeles case to decide whether a chief prosecutor can be held liable for a man's wrongful conviction of murder." David Savage has this story in the LA Times on Van de Kamp v. Goldstein, No. 07-854.

Tony Mauro has this post at BLT on the unusual circumstance of the Court hearing two cases on the same day where the United States had declined to defend a judgment in its favor and the Court appointed an amicus to argue in support of the decision below. Defending a position the SG has abandoned is usually a lost cause, but Mauro thinks these two have a shot.

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Let's just hope they get Baze right.

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