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May 24, 2010

Lots of SCOTUS sentencing action this morning

SCOTUSblog is already reporting five cert grants from the Supreme Court and these opinions:

  • US v. Marcus dealing with plain error review; government win

  • US v. O'Brien dealing with elements and sentencing factors; defense win

  • Jefferson v. Upton, a summary reversal of 11th Circuit ruling affirming a death sentence

  • Robertson v. US ex rel. Watson, dismissed as improvidently granted (with an intriguing foursome of CJ Roberts and Justices Scalia, Kennedy and Sotomayor dissenting)

Lots and lots of commentary soon to follow.

UPDATE:  As detailed in this AP article, one of the cert grants, Skinner v. Switzer, 09-9000, will present the Justices with the question of "whether a Texas death row inmate should have access to evidence for DNA testing that he says could clear him of three murders."

May 24, 2010 at 10:12 AM | Permalink

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Comments

Does page 4 of J. Stevens' concurrence in O'Brien include a conciliatory goodbye to J. Thomas? "As Justice Thomas eloquently explained in his dissent in Harris . . . "

Posted by: t | May 24, 2010 10:28:51 AM

Assuming that news reports are correct and that the defense decided not to have further testing in Skinner, what possible justification could there be for ordering the testing? Waiver, last I checked, is still possible, even in a capital case.

Posted by: federalist | May 24, 2010 10:57:13 AM

fedie:

Let me see if I have the theoretical underpinnings of your argument correct -- assuming arguendo Skinner's DNA test would point to someone else -- your view of the constitution and your own morality find no problem in executing a factually innocent man?

Posted by: karl | May 24, 2010 4:32:22 PM

karl, the issue, of course, is how you run a rational criminal justice system. The trial is the main action, and defense counsel should know to ask for whatever tests should be done. Allowing defendants to lie in wait like this is just plain nuts. It's a waste of resources, which causes its own problems.

Defendants who want this sort of intervention ought to subject themselves to cross-examination too.

Skinner has had plenty of chances. He never filed cert. petitions from his Texas denials.

I suspect Texas is simply going to test the evidence before this case gets decided.

Posted by: federalist | May 24, 2010 8:18:09 PM

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