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Bell v. Kelly Drop-Kicked

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The U. S. Supreme Court this morning dumped the capital habeas case of Bell v. Kelly with a one-line order: "The writ of certiorari is dismissed as improvidently granted." Sometimes "improvidently granted" is a term of art, but this time it is literally true. They took a case that does not present the issue the petitioner claimed it presents. As noted here, the premise of the question presented -- that the state court refused to consider evidence -- is false, and counsel for petitioner admitted as much in oral argument. As discussed here, the case could have been used to resolve some important issues nonetheless, but the Court decided to simply dump it.

Update: Doug Berman at SL&P has this post invoking the late Gilda Radner: "Oh, never mind."

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This outcome might suggest that state courts actually do give capital defendants a fair shake, since after all this time post AEDPA, what some might believe to be everyday fact turns out to be false. Kent, you get bonus points for calling out the falsity in the post immediately following the argument.

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