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June 23, 2008

Lots of criminal technicalities in SCOTUS cert grants

As detailed here at SCOTUSblog, the Supreme Court granted cert in seven cases today, three of which involve criminal justices issues.  In my view, the criminal cases granted today do not have any blockbuster potential, although I find intriguing that a grant in one case indirectly brings state clemency issues before the court.  Here is the SCOTUSblog account of this case from the Sixth Circuit to be argued next Term before the Justices:

Docket: 07-8521
Case name: Harbison v. Bell

Issue: Whether the Terrorist Death Penalty Enhancement Act of 2005 provides prisoners sentenced under state law the right to federally appointed and funded counsel to pursue clemency under state law, and whether a district court’s denial of such a request may be appealed without a certificate of appealability.

June 23, 2008 at 10:55 AM | Permalink


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Note that the 2005 act was merely code maintenance. The operative language has been the law since 1988. See generally, McFarland v. Scott, 512 U.S. 849, 851 (1994). The puzzle here is why they took the case for full briefing argument rather than disposing of it summarily.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Jun 23, 2008 1:34:15 PM

Harbison could have an execution date set long before this appeal gets disposed of, and a stay really shouldn't be issued simply to preserve this issue.

Posted by: federalist | Jun 23, 2008 4:34:11 PM

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