<< Defaulting the Habeas Statute of Limitations | Main | News Scan >>

SCOTUS Relists

Over at SCOTUSblog, John Elwood has his summary of cases "relisted" by the US Supreme Court.  (That is, the cases are scheduled for a conference to decide if the high court will take them, but the decision is put off to a later conference.)

Montgomery v. Robinson is a capital habeas case in which the Sixth Circuit en banc held, 11-5, that the state court reasonably applied the Brady v. Maryland rule.  Given the makeup of the Sixth Circuit, a claim on which the petitioner gets only five votes would not seem to be a strong one.

Garcia v. California, 11-8371, is unusual in that the Court seems to be taking a hard look at a capital case from California on direct appeal.  Offhand, I can't recall a single case in the modern era where the US Supreme Court took such a case on the defendant's petition.  Generally, the Ninth Circuit could be counted on to overturn death sentences 100% of the time when it is warranted and ~95% of the time when it is not warranted, so the only needed SCOTUS supervision is overturning wrong grants by the Ninth Circuit.  The issue on certiorari this time, according to Elwood's post, is a victim-impact videotape claimed to be "unfairly prejudicial."  In capital-defense-speak, "unfairly prejudicial" means "effective," violating the capital defendant's constitutional right to ineffective opposition of prosecutor.  I certainly hope the Court is not even considering going down the disastrous road of Booth v. Maryland again.  Of all the things that need fixing in American criminal justice, effective victim-impact evidence should be at the bottom of the list.  If they wanted to overrule Lockett v. Ohio and bring back Booth at the same time, thus curtailing the emotional appeals on both sides, that would be different.  But bringing back the extremely skewed situation we had with Lockett + Booth should not even be on the table.

Elwood thinks Brown v. Bobby is on hold for Johnson v. Williams, 11-465, formerly Cavazos v. Williams.  That case has to do with the application of AEDPA to a case where the defendant's state appeal has closely related state and federal claims and there is no separate discussion of the federal aspect of the claim.

Leave a comment

Monthly Archives