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May 24, 2006

SCOTUS anticipation...

After having disposed of only a "flyspeck" Fourth Amendment case this week (details here), the Supreme Court still has more than a dozen significant criminal justice cases to resolve over the next month.  As I explained in this post, many remaining cases will test the new Chief's ability to achieve the consensus that has developed as the hallmark of the Roberts' Court to date.

Though for a while I was most excited about the the Recuenco case concerning whether Blakely errors are structural or may be deemed harmless (details in this archive), after arguments I now may be most interested to see what the Court does with the Hill case about challenges to lethal injection protocols (details in this archive).

Of course, there are many other cases that could be big (or little) for the sentencing world depending upon how the Justices frame and resolve the issues before them.  I encourage readers to use the comments to note the SCOTUS rulings they are most eagerly anticipating.

Some related posts:

May 24, 2006 at 08:52 AM | Permalink


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» Blog Round-Up - Wednesday, May 24th from SCOTUSblog
Here is Sentencing Law & Policy on the Supreme Court criminal cases from this term that have not yet been decided. Here is ACSBlog on Brigham City, Utah v. Stuart. Here is Orin Kerr with a post titled, "Justice Hecht... [Read More]

Tracked on May 25, 2006 2:03:37 PM


Easy: House v. Bell. That the case was not set for reargument after Alito replaced O'Connor should (I emphasize "should") bode well for House. After all, Alito can't vote, and the side of the Court typically referred to as conservative couldn't get to five without one of the typical liberals jumping ship. While Breyer has been somewhat prone to do so in recent years (think Hamdi or Earls, the pee-in-a-cup school-search case), I can't imagine he would do so in such a hotly contested capital case.

I'm interested to see if the Court will limit its holding to the facts of this case or will instead answer one of the questions implicated by the cert grant: how much does a habeas petitioner have to show to get through the Schlup actual-innocence gateway? The Chief Justice's new emphasis on narrow holdings notwithstanding, the lower courts would sure benefit from guidance on that issue.

In the end, I can't imagine the Court will adopt either the views of the majority or the principal dissent from the en banc court of appeals. I would look for something along the lines of a conditional writ entitling House to a new trial.

Posted by: LT | May 24, 2006 12:31:40 PM

There are quite a few interesting cases still pending. I think Recuenco is still of great interest. Contrary to many earlier comments here, it is the ideal case to answer the question of whether Blakely error can ever be harmless. An absolute proposition, such as "never harmless," should be tested in the extreme case, and this case where the jury answered every question in genuine dispute is just right.

The Vienna convention cases, Sanchez-Llamas v. Oregon and Bustillo v. Johnson will stir up some dust. The anti-internationalists want the Court to tell the International Court of Justice to take a flying leap. The defense side wants the Court to exclude all statements of the defendant any time the consulate isn't properly notified. The fact that they were unable cite a single published decision by any court of any other party to the treaty excluding evidence on consular non-notification grounds alone didn't seem to bother them. I predict some disappointment on both fringes.

Amicus briefs in these cases, as well as Hill, Hamdan, Samson, and Hudson are available on our web site at http://www.cjlf.org/briefs/briefmain.htm

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | May 24, 2006 3:01:54 PM

To me it's still Recuenco, hands down. All the focus on state law at oral argument appeared to home in on the fact that the omitted sentence-enhancing fact is virtually implicit in the jury's verdict, proving that the Washington Supreme Court's structural error holding was dispositive.

Posted by: Steve | May 24, 2006 3:36:30 PM

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