Today the US Supreme Court decided to take up the case of Maples v. Thomas (
not Maples v. Maples, as the orders list erroneously says it's fixed), No. 10-63. The Court limited the grant of certiorari to Question 2. As drafted by counsel for petitioner, that question reads:
Whether the Eleventh Circuit properly held--in conflict with the decisions of this Court and other courts--that there was no "cause" to excuse any procedural default where petitioner was blameless for the default, the State's own conduct contributed to the default, and petitioner's attorneys of record were no longer functioning as his agents at the time of any default.This phrasing of the question commits the fallacy of assuming the conclusion. Of course it would not be proper for the Eleventh Circuit to hold in conflict with Supreme Court precedent, but that is precisely the question in dispute. The Supreme Court precedent closest in its facts is Coleman v. Thompson. In that case, the Court held that ineffective assistance of state habeas counsel in blowing a deadline to appeal denial of habeas in the state trial court is not "cause" for a procedural default opening the claim up to federal habeas review.