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The Short List from the Long Conference

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Well, this is disappointing.  The US Supreme Court met for its "long conference" yesterday.  That is the private conference of the Justices where they consider the petitions for certiorari (asking the Court to take up a case) that built up over the summer while they were off in Austria or Lake Tahoe or anywhere but Washington.  (The Clerk went to Lubbock, a curious choice.)

The day after the conference, the Court issues a short list of orders with the cases it has decided to take up, along with some administrative matters in pending cases.  Today's order is here.  The much longer list of cases not taken will be issued at the formal beginning of the term, the first Monday in October.

There appears to be a grand total of one criminal or habeas case, and it is a quirky statute of limitations case.  In Wood v. Milyard (U.S. No. 10-9995, USCA10 No. 09-1348), the District Court raised a statute of limitations issue sua sponte.  "[T]he Respondents provided a cryptic response to the timeliness question. They first incorporated an argument from their pre-answer response about the statute of limitations expiring before Wood filed his habeas petition, and then stated that they were 'not challenging, but do not concede, the timeliness of [Wood's] [habeas] petition.' "  Huh?  The District Court dismissed some claims as unexhausted and others as meritless, but the Court of Appeals affirmed on statute of limitations.

Why this oddball case is certworthy is less than clear, especially in a case where the defendant is clearly guilty, he got a sentence that is definitely no more than he deserved and arguably less, and the underlying procedural claims are meritless.

So, of the numerous more certworthy cases on the conference list, which did they turn down, which did they vacate and remand, and which did they "relist" for reconsideration at a later conference?  Check back here Monday.

In how many habeas cases will we see an order of "granted, vacated, and remanded for reconsideration in light of" Richter, Pinholster, or both?  How many for Walker v. Martin?  A fair number, I expect.

4 Comments

Let's hope there are a few summary opinions, e.g., Cavazos v. Smith and Wetzel v. Lambert.

It's possible, but there haven't been any on First Monday for at least the last five terms. The cases to be decided by summary reversal are more likely to be among the relists.

Speaking of Pinholster, the Ninth seems to be hearing the message loud and clear:

http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2011/09/26/09-99004.pdf

That one had a good result, but they danced around the main Pinholster issue.

Regardless of whether Pinholster bars consideration of Stokley’s new evidence, Stokley is not entitled to habeas relief. If Pinholster applies, it precludes the only relief Stokley seeks, and even if we may consider the evidence Stokley introduced in the district court, Stokley has failed to present a colorable claim of ineffective assistance of counsel.

Still, it's progress. Any time Paez votes to affirm a capital sentence, it's progress.

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