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The Long Conference

Today is the much-awaited "long conference" in which the U.S. Supreme Court considers the petitions for certiorari (i.e., asking them to take the case) that have built up over the summer. The list is so long that SCOTUSblog had to break up its "Petitions to Watch" list into five parts: I, II, III, IV, and V.

These lists only include "paid" petitions, not those where the petitioner is a "pauper," unable to pay the filing fee. For criminal cases, this means they are looking almost entirely at states' petitions saying the court below wrongly reversed a judgment. Defendant's petitions claiming the court below wrongly affirmed a judgment are, for the most part, not considered for the Petitions to Watch list.

I wrote a little computer robot to go find the cases on the conference list that are designated "capital case" on the docket. The result is here. The clerk's definition of a "capital case" is a bit quirky. Cases where the lower court overturned a death sentence and the state seeks to reinstate it are generally not included. So these are mostly defendant's petitions, giving the list a bias opposite to the Petitions to Watch list. [Note: My robot is very simple minded and cannot cope with even minor variations in wording that would be obvious to a human. No warranty express or implied on the accuracy or completeness of the list.]

On SCOTUSblog's list II is Ryan v. Styers, formerly Schriro v. Styers. Arizona seeks to have the Ninth Circuit reversed yet again for reading the state court opinion in too hostile a manner yet again. CJLF has chimed in as amicus with a somewhat more expansive proposal. The "anything goes in mitigation" rule that Justice White warned was wrongheaded from the beginning is indeed wrongheaded, and it is a principal cause of all the main problems with the death penalty today: long delays, high costs, and frequent reversals. Time to get rid of it.

On SCOTUSblog's list I is Wong v. Belmontes, asking whether the Ninth will get spanked yet again on the same case. See Brown v. Belmontes, 544 U.S. 945 (2005); Ayers v. Belmontes, 549 U.S. 7 (2006).


The California AG pulls out all the stops in the Belmontes brief. Calling out the judges on their inconsistent stances over the different opinions is hardball. I'm glad to see it.

It looks to me there are two cases in the Scotus blog list 5. One from the 6th circuit and one from the 9th with Pregerson on the panel.

I'm not sure I understand your point, Brooklyn. Do you mean there are two capital cases (states' petitions) on list V? Yes. And...?

I did not really have a point, I was just pointing out some capital cases that Scotus blog has in the petitions to watch. I was not sure if you were aware of them. If you were not aware, I thought it might interest you and your readers.

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