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SCOTUS Monday

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No decision yet in the Guantanamo detainee case, Boumediene v. Bush. Be sure to tune in next week, same time, same channel.

The Court decided Gonzalez v. United States on the (yawn) question of whether consent to having the jury voir dire in a federal criminal trial be done by a magistrate judge instead of a full-fledged district judge requires the personal waiver of the defendant as opposed to simple consent by counsel. No, 7-1-1.

The lone new cert. grant is Bell v. Kelly, No. 07-1223, a capital habeas case on the extent of deference to state court decisions under 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

The habeas petitioner contends that the fact-finding procedures on state habeas were inadequate to develop his case. The question on which certiorari was granted (as phrased by petitioner) is:

"1. Did the Fourth Circuit err when ... it applied the deferential standard of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), which is reserved for claims 'adjudicated on the merits' in state court, to evaluate a claim predicated on evidence of prejudice the state court refused to consider and that was properly received for the first time in a federal evidentiary hearing?"

The Court denied consideration of these questions:

"2. Did the Fourth Circuit err when ... it categorically discounted the weight of mitigating evidence for Strickland prejudice purposes whenever the evidence could also have aggravating aspects?"

"3. Does Virginia's use and/or manner of administration of sodium thiopental, pancuronium bromide, and potassium chloride, individually or together, as a method of execution by lethal injection, violate the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause?"

I think the Court has heard all it cares to hear about lethal injection.

The cert. documents and opinion below are available via SCOTUSblog.

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It was too bad that the Supreme Court denied cert. in Buss v. Stevens today. That case, involving truly awful facts and a truly awful person, seems to have been wrongly decided by the Seventh Circuit.

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