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February 20, 2013

SCOTUS decides Padilla ruling on IAC claims is not retroactive in Chaidez (and lots of other CJ stuff)

Sentencing and habeas fans have some important SCOTUS action today (after yesterday's Fourth Amendment fun).  Most significantly, as reported effectively via SCOTUSblog:

We have [an] opinion ... in Chaidez v. U.S. The opinion is by Kagan. Seventh Circuit is affirmed.  The Court's decision in Padilla v. KY is not retroactive for cases pending on direct review when Padilla was decided.  It is seven to two.  Justice Thomas concurs in the judgment only. Justice Sotomayor dissents, joined by Ginsburg....

Padilla required defense attorneys to inform defendants about the possible effects of a guilty plea on their immigration status.  The Chaidez opinion can be found here.  So Padilla does not apply retroactively to cases that are already final on direct review.

There are lots more criminal ruling coming over the wire this morning as well, and here are snippets (and links) to the other criminal justice decisions handed down by SCOTUS today:

The second case is Evans v. Michigan. Decision is by Justice Sotomayor, vote is eight to one, with Alito dissenting. Michigan Supreme Court is reversed. Double Jeopardy Clause bars retrial for Evans's crime. The judge had directed a verdict of not guilty during the trial based on a legal error. That kind of acquittal, the Court says today, bars retrial. The opinion in Evans is up here....

We have the third opinion, in Johnson v. Williams. The opinion is by Justice Alito. The result is unanimous, although Scalia concurs in judgment only. The Ninth Circuit is reversed.  Here is the holding: Under the habeas statute, when a state court rules against a defendant in an opinion that rejects some of the claims but does not expressly address a federal claim, a federal habeas court must presume, subject to rebuttal, that the federal claim was adjudicated on the merits.  Read Johnson v. Williams here.

We have the fourth opinion, in Henderson v. United States. Justice Breyer has the opinion. The decision of the Fifth Circuit is reversed.  The vote is six to three; Scalia dissents, joined by Thomas and Alito.  The Court holds that regardless of whether a legal question was settled or unsettled at the time of trial, an error is plain within the meaning of the federal rules as long as the error was plain at the time of appellate review.  The Henderson opinion is here.

As the headline to this post suggests, for sentencing fans, I believe Chaidez is the most notable and consequential of the quartet of criminal justice rulings from SCOTUS this morning.  But, after I likely spend much of the day reading all of these opinions, I will report on anything I find within this big batch of mixed results that might change my view.

February 20, 2013 at 10:12 AM | Permalink


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I expect to continue an online symposium on Chaidez on my blog, crImmigration.com, with contributions from practitioners and academics who have been involved with Padilla's retroactive application. A quick summary of Chaidez is available here (http://crimmigration.com/2013/02/20/scotus-padilla-not-retroactive.aspx) and links to the guest contributions will appear there in the next few days.

César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández | crImmigration.com

Posted by: César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández | Feb 20, 2013 12:23:24 PM

The 9th is Reversed, unanimously...the most often quote by SCOTUS.

Posted by: deano | Feb 20, 2013 4:24:46 PM

Justice Alito agreed with the government's argument in this criminal case
... the second most often quote by SCOTUS.

Posted by: anon | Feb 20, 2013 5:44:35 PM

Since Evans unfortunately, but correctly applies Double Jeopardy law, the most egregious part of the case is not just that the trial judge got things plainly wrong, but that said judge twice denied the prosecutor's request for a recess to review the statute (see footnote 10).
I hope that Michigan's Judicial Tenure Commission knows about this miscarraige of justice and the judicial arrogance that accompanied it.

Posted by: Cal. Prosecutor | Feb 20, 2013 6:27:36 PM

well Cal Prosecutor maybe the prosecution in this case needed to join the 21's century with the rest of us and had the information on any possible statue handly.

After all this is the information age! Hell could say it's the "information overload age"

Most of the time we have too damn much info.

Posted by: rodsmith | Feb 21, 2013 12:54:36 AM

Well rodsmith, I suspect most prosecutors in this country are like my office in terms of budget. We pathetically consider ourselves fortunate to have Westlaw in the office, let alone having such available in the courtroom.

Posted by: Cal. Prosecutor | Feb 21, 2013 2:59:27 PM

LOL could be. While i don't have Westlaw at my house i can usualy take 5 mins and find any statue from any state of federal of national law i want. Does't cost a dime!

Posted by: rodsmith | Feb 23, 2013 3:19:53 AM

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