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June 24, 2010

Another AEDPA habeas win for a defendant produces fascinating 5-4 SCOTUS split

Though sure to be lost in the all attention given to the honest services ruling today, hard-core habeas fans will be eager to check out the result and the voting patterns in today's SCOTUS ruling in Magwood v. Patterson. Here is how the folks at SCOTUSblog describe the ruling:

Justice Thomas writes for the Court. The lower court is reversed and the case is remanded.

The vote is 5-4. Justice Kennedy dissents, joined by the Chief Justice and Justices Ginsburg and Alito.

The Court rules that the defendant's habeas application is not a "second or successive" petition because it challenges a new judgment for the first time.

If memory serves, I believe Blakely-Crawford guru Jeff Fisher argued Magwood, and he obviously has figured out the secret trick for convincing Justices Thomas and Scalia to vote in favor of a state criminal defendant.  The full opinion in Magwood is available here.

June 24, 2010 at 10:24 AM | Permalink

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Comments

I was pretty surprised to see Ginsburg both on the government's side and in the minority.

As a commenter on the VC said, as a habeas petitioner you couldn't feel very good if you were told Ginsburg was going to vote against you.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Jun 24, 2010 12:27:33 PM

"If memory serves, I believe Blakely-Crawford guru Jeff Fisher argued Magwood, and he obviously has figured out the secret trick for convincing Justices Thomas and Scalia to vote in favor of a state criminal defendant."

The non-secret "trick" is to have an argument consistent with the text and original understanding of the enactment at issue. Of course, not all criminal defendants and their counsel can do that. Scalia and Thomas didn't buy Fisher's arguments in Burton v. Stewart, the case closest to today's case.

They bought mine, as did the other 7.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Jun 24, 2010 12:41:45 PM

Kent seems a little jealous of Jeff Fisher.

Posted by: sunfish | Jun 24, 2010 4:14:49 PM

Don't see how you inferred that. My comment is on the "secret trick."

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Jun 24, 2010 4:27:46 PM

Ginsburg wrote Bobby v. Bies and is a stickler for things like this--so not that surprising. I think the majority has the better of the argument.

Posted by: federalist | Jun 24, 2010 4:37:07 PM

Call it "special trick" or whatever you want. Anyone that can get Thomas and Scalia to vote for a capital prisoner deserves a medal. When was the last time that happened? I am going to read the OA transcript again. I seem to remember Scalia beating up Magwood's attorney but that was several months ago.

Posted by: DaveP | Jun 24, 2010 8:39:23 PM

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