<< News Scan | Main | Texas Execution and Ohio Change >>

Capital Cases in the Long Conference

Monday is the U.S. Supreme Court's annual "long conference" in which they consider certiorari petitions (i.e., requests to take up cases decided in lower courts) that have built up over the summer.  The very valuable Cert Pool has the full list, 2127 cases as of this writing.

There are 68 capital cases on the list.  I extracted them into an Excel spreadsheet.  The cases include:

Cunningham v. Chappell:  Albert Cunningham is slated to be the 16th person in California to complete all normal appeals but not be executed because of CDCR's needless foot-dragging.

Scott v. Ryan:  Scott assisted James Styers as he took 4-year-old Christopher Milke, the son of Styer's girlfriend Debra Milke, on a trip that was supposed to be to the mall to see Santa Claus.  Instead, they took him out into the Arizona desert where Styers put three bullets in the back of his head.  Scott confessed it was a plot among the three of them, Milke included, to kill Christopher for a $5000 insurance policy.  Unlike in Milke's case, the confession is untainted.  Unfortunately, it is not admissible against Milke, who is being portrayed as innocent in Europe.  The Ninth Circuit opinion in Scott's case is here.
Gore v. Crews:  Gore's lawyers say he is insane.  Courts and a panel of psychiatrists have rejected the claim.  The latter said his claimed delusion was "patently a fabrication."

Gentry v. Sinclair:  Gentry murdered a 12-year-old girl.  If the Washington Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit didn't buy his arguments, does he have much chance in the U.S. Supreme Court?

Ryan v. Hurles:  This is the only case where the state is the party asking the Supreme Court to take the case up.  The Ninth Circuit majority opinion, according to the dissent, "invalidates a lawfully imposed capital sentence, further frays the (increasingly threadbare) fabric of our AEDPA jurisprudence, and lays the groundwork for other frivolous habeas challenges to trial judges' impartiality...."

Hill v. Humphrey and In re Hill:  A claim of mental retardation intellectual disability under Atkins v. Virginia.

White v. Woodall:  This is not a certiorari petition, but a routine procedural motion.  This case is already being briefed on the merits.


"This is not a certiorari petition, but a routine procedural motion."

Can you explain what this means?

The other cases listed are requests for the Supreme Court to take up the case. The Court has already taken up White v. Woodall. The case is on the conference list for a routine motion to formally appoint Woodall's lawyer in the lower court as his lawyer in the Supreme Court as well. I only mentioned the case to explain why a case already taken up was on the conference list.

Leave a comment

Monthly Archives