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April 25, 2005

The same ole story from SCOTUS

As we all now know, Monday morning with the Supreme Court in session means more Booker-inspired GVRs.  This morning I count three dozen such GVRs on this order list, which emboldens me to restate my prediction in this post that we could have over 1000 such orders before this Term is finished.  (Previous GVRs can be tracked down through this post.)

In addition, as reported in this post from SCOTUSblog, the Supreme Court continued today its preoccupation (fetishism?) with capital sentencing procedures through a cert grant in Oregon v. Guzek (docket 04-928), which concerns "a convicted individual's attempt to bring into a death sentencing hearing evidence that would cast doubt on the conviction."  As well explained at  SCOTUSblog, Guzek "seeks clarification of the Supreme Court's 1988 ruling in Franklin v. Lynaugh" and also "could have an impact on the coming sentencing hearing of admitted terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui."

Though Guzek seems like a cert-worthy case, this grant reinforces my recent observations in this post about how much time and energy the Supreme Court is spending on death penalty litigation these days.  (I am growing fond of labeling these developments a "legal culture of death" at the Supreme Court.)  I believe Guzek is the second capital cases in which cert has been granted for the 2005 Term, even though there are (in my view) many post-Blakely and post-Booker legal questions concerning non-capital sentencing procedures that are far more pressing and of much greater national import.

Meanwhile, as reported here by CrimProf and in fuller posts at SCOTUSblog here and here, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments today on two (complicated) non-capital criminal cases which both have issues that could impact sentencing law and practice.  As the Supreme Court term winds down over the next two months, I will be watching closely not only whether we get cert grants on any Blakely and Booker issues for next Term, but also whether some of the coming decisions this Term have any important or notable dicta that might impact post-Blakely and post-Booker litigation in lower courts.

UPDATE: This AP account of today's SCOTUS argument in Halbert v. Michigan suggests that sentencing is a big part of the case's back-story.  The Halbert case will thus be high on my watch list as the Term winds down.

April 25, 2005 at 11:12 AM | Permalink

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