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October 6, 2006

SCOTUS grants cert to supervise Texas capital work

As detailed here at SCOTUSblog, the Supreme Court granted cert on two cases today, one of which is a capital case out of Texas.  This is particularly interesting for reasons well explained in Lyle Denniston's post:

The second case is a prisoner appeal in a capital case, Smith v. Texas (05-11304, opinion below). The Supreme Court had overturned LaRoyce L. Smith's death sentence in November 2004, but the sentence was reimposed by Texas state courts....

The new case appears to be the latest episode in a continuing test of wills between the Supreme Court and Texas state courts over the standards to be used in capital sentencing proceedings. Four former federal judges, supporting Smith's appeal, urged the Court to hear the case "to reaffirm that lower courts, on remand, must comply with this Court's mandates and must not invent new procedural obstacles to avoid compliance."  This amici brief said that the Smith case involves resistance to the Supreme Court's earlier mandate. The Texas court, on remand, created and applied "a harmless error analysis that had never before been applied in this case or context....  What the state court has done in this case is flout this Court's interpretation of [constitutional] guarantees.  Such an action should not be permitted to stand, for it undermines the Constitution, our federal system, and this Court's role in the enforcement of limits imposed by both."

October 6, 2006 at 04:20 PM | Permalink


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Brilliant brief by Chemerinsky decimating Texas court of appeals. Court should resign en mass. Shame shame. Equally brilliant move by defense attorneys to enlist retired federal appellate judges on the defense side

Michael R. Levine
Portland, Oregon

Posted by: Michael Levine | Oct 6, 2006 6:49:22 PM

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