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Denials of Certiorari on Opening Day:  SCOTUSblog has been busy reporting on the Supreme Court's opening day.  Kent noted earlier that the Court had denied certiorari in Ryan v. Styers, and SCOTUSblog's Most of the cases address First Amendment and civil law issues.  Kent's post contains information on the death penalty cases that the Supreme Court has not yet addressed, but Christensen posts information on the criminal cases Holmes v. Louisiana, involving an appeal from a death row inmate who has claimed that developmental disabilities caused by fetal alcohol syndrome make her ineligible for execution; and Mikos v. United States, which covers the Court's denial of an appeal of the conviction of a doctor who allegedly shot a nurse to prevent her from testifying against him in a Medicare fraud case, when the defense claimed prosecutors encouraged the jury to focus on the doctor's failure to testify on his own behalf.

How Does the Supreme Court "Decid[e] a case"?:  Perhaps in anticipation of opening day at the Supreme Court, Joel Jacobsen posted on Judging Crimes on a New York Times article discussing the number of cases "decided" by the U.S Supreme Court.  Jacobsen's post critiques "the assumption on which the article rested: that 'deciding a case' is a fixed and meaningful category, and therefore a rational way to analyze the court's output."  According to Jacobsen, in recent years the Supreme Court has not been "deciding cases" so much as utilizing a new way to make law.  Jacobsen looks to the length of Supreme Court opinions to prove his point.  He points out that in most recent volumes of the U.S. Supreme Court reporter, the Court has authored opinions that exceed 80 pages.  He argues that the lengthy opinions are a departure from the common law practice of judicial law making (where judges would decide cases and then retrospectively abstracting doctrine from the decisions), and is now doing the opposite: announcing new abstract doctrine and then applying it to the particular case that provided the excuse for announcing the doctrine.

A Hold Executions in Ohio: 
At Sentencing Law Policy, Doug Berman has posted a report on the Sixth Circuit's grant of a stay for the October 8 execution of Lawrence Reynolds, as well as a post on Ohio Governor Ted Strickland's decision to "halt to all executions in the state until at least 2010." The post is ambiguous on whether Governor Strickland also intended to delay the execution of Kenneth Biros, who is scheduled for execution on December 8, 2009.  The Governor's statement only issues reprieves to Lawrence Reynolds and Daryl Durr until 2010, still no word on Biros.

New Justice on the Bench:  Tony Mauro writes on The Blog of Legal Times that "Justice Sonia Sotomayor lived up to her billing as a forceful questioner today as the Supreme Court opened its fall term..."  He reports, that unlike some new justices, Justice Sotomayor was a "frequent interrogator, often formulating her queries as a prosecutor or trial lawyer might: declarative statements about an aspect of the case, followed by the question, 'Correct?'"  Mauro also reported that the new seating arrangements gave both Justices Thomas and Breyer new perspectives on the courtroom.  Mauro writes that both spent "several minutes during arguments peering at the marble friezes of lawgivers on the walls of the Court high above them..."  Jonathan Adler also has a post on Volokh Conspiracy reporting on a Washington Post article asking legal experts to comment on what they expect from Justice Sotomayor during her first term.

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