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New SCOTUS Criminal Cases

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The US Supreme Court today took up three criminal cases for decision next term.

Gonzalez v. Thaler, No. 10-895, is a gnarled habeas procedure case on statute of limitations, certificates of appealability, and waived objections.

Gonzalez may or may not have filed his federal habeas petition late, depending on when the clock starts -- when the time to seek a higher court's review on direct appeal expires or when the mandate actually issues.  (I think it's the former.)  USCA5 took that question up in its certificate of appealability, but it did not identify an underlying constitutional claim with any arguable merit, as the statute and Slack v. McDaniel require.  But the state didn't object to that until the case reached the SCOTUS certiorari stage.

Smith v. Louisiana, No. 10-8145, is a noncapital murder case from the Louisiana Supreme Court without a published opinion.  It involves claims of nondisclosure of evidence under the rule of Brady v. Maryland and other cases in that line.  Why did the Supreme Court take up such a fact-bound case?  Pre-AEDPA, they probably would have let the case go to federal habeas, but perhaps they see a need for de novo review here and are more inclined to take such cases straight from the state courts.

Setser v. United States, No. 10-7387, involves when a federal sentence can be made to run consecutively to a state sentence.

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