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Orders List

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The US Supreme Court this morning released the orders list from last Friday's conference.  Only two cases were taken.  The criminal case is Blueford v. Arkansas, No. 10-1320, dealing with the double jeopardy implications when a jury deadlocks while considering various degrees of the charged offense.  Petitioner claims the jury announced it had acquitted on the greater offense.  The State's Brief in Opposition says there was no verdict to that effect but only "an informal exchange between [the] foreperson and the trial judge...."

The Court turned down two high-profile cases.  One is Wetzel v. Abu-Jamal, No. 11-49.  The Third Circuit stretched to overturn Abu-Jamal's death sentence, adopting an expansive interpretation of Mills v. Maryland, 486 U. S. 367 (1988).  The Supreme Court itself took a limited view of Mills in Smith v. Spisak, 130 S. Ct. 676 (2010) and sent the Abu-Jamal case back to the Third for reconsideration.  The decision after remand is here.

I think the Third is wrong, and on top of that the Supreme Court has such a dim view of Mills at this point that they might even be persuaded to overrule it altogether.  So why did they turn the case down?  I suspect that after the Troy Davis circus they just don't want another high-profile capital case at this point.

The other high-profile denial is Ryan v. Doody, No. 11-175, the Phoenix Buddhist Temple massacre case.  The case is not capital because Doody was a bit under 18 at the time of this horrific crime, illustrating the problem with sharp age cut-offs. This case was also a do-over, sent back to reconsider the Miranda issue after Florida v. Powell, 130 S. Ct. 1195 (2010).  The decision on remand is here.  Judge Tallman wrote a 38-page dissent.  Justice Alito dissented from denial of certiorari, apparently without an opinion.  So Doody gets a new trial without the confession.  If he walks, that will probably be the worst injustice ever perpetrated under the Miranda rule.

The two juvenile LWOP cases, noted here, have apparently been relisted again.

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"I suspect that after the Troy Davis circus they just don't want another high-profile capital case at this point."

That's a depressing thought. I really feel for the widow.

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