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May 14, 2007

Another 5-4 SCOTUS ruling in a criminal case

No Claiborne or Rita from the Supreme Court today, but the did issue one decision and it is yet another 5-4 ruling in a criminal case.  Here is the initial report from Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog:

The Supreme Court on Monday granted no new cases. It issued one ruling -- Schriro v. Landrigan (05-1575), reversing the Ninth Circuit.  The Court divided 5-4 in ruling that a federal judge did not err in refusing to grant a state prisoner an evidentiary hearing on a claim of inadequate legal advice from his lawyer.

In a term marked by split ruling, it seems that nearly every notable criminal law case is coming down 5-4.  This fact perhaps makes it even more remarkable that Cunningham was a 6-3 decision, and perhaps also suggests we should not expect unified opinions in Claiborne or Rita.

UPDATE: The opinion in Landrigan is available at this link.

May 14, 2007 at 10:22 AM | Permalink

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Comments

What is really remarkable about Schriro v. Landrigan is that a competent defendant can interfere with his capital sentencing hearing in the manner in which he did and still get 4 votes to overturn his death sentence on the US Supreme Court.

Posted by: federalist | May 14, 2007 11:18:39 AM

Landrigan didn't get four votes to overturn his death sentence. He got four votes to permit an evidentiary hearing.

Perhaps he does not deserve that hearing (I tend to think he doesn't), but I am not sure why SCOTUS bothered with the case.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | May 14, 2007 12:14:53 PM

I overstated. Although, if they had reversed for evidentiary hearing, we all know what the outcome would be.

Posted by: federalist | May 14, 2007 12:31:33 PM

federalist, did you even read the opinion? I have a hard time believing you did if you missed the requested relief since the entire opinion talks about that.

Posted by: Elson | May 14, 2007 8:00:55 PM

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