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November 7, 2011

SCOTUS summarily reverses Sixth Circuit reversal of Ohio death sentence

As detailed in this new AP story, in a per curiam opinion this morning the "Supreme Court says a lower court was wrong when it threw out the death penalty and conviction of a man accused of beating his roommate and burying him alive."  The ruling came in Bobby v. Dixon, No. 10-1540 (S. Ct. Nov. 7, 2011) (available here), which starts this way:

Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, a state prisoner seeking a writ of habeas corpus from a federal court “must show that the state court’s ruling on the claim being presented in federal court was so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement.”   Harrington v. Richter, 562 U. S. ___, ___ (2011) (slip op., at 13). The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit purported to identify three such grievous errors in the Ohio Supreme Court’s affirmance of respondent Archie Dixon’s murder conviction. Because it is not clear that the Ohio Supreme Court erred at all, much less erred so transparently that no fairminded jurist could agree with that court’s decision, the Sixth Circuit’s judgment must be reversed.

Just as the Eighth Circuit is coming to understand that Booker et al. means something for federal sentence review thanks to lots of SCOTUS reversals, I suspect and hope that the Sixth Circuit is coming to understand thanks to rulings like Dixon that AEDPA et al. means something for state death sentence review.

November 7, 2011 at 11:31 AM | Permalink


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Leaving aside whether the ruling is correct under AEDPA, law enforcement should definitely bookmark this one. It is a road map on how to avoid Miranda effectively, post-Seibert. Sometimes I think the Court mistook Holmes's Bad Man thesis. You are supposed to try to *avoid* letting the Man evade the law, not issue manuals on how to do it!

Posted by: Anon | Nov 7, 2011 11:40:58 AM

I think the 6th (or at least some of its judges) are playing by Reinhard's "They can't reverse them all" rulebook, rather than trying to conform themselves to the dictates from on high.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Nov 7, 2011 11:58:23 AM

I can't wait for peter and claudio to chime in on this one. Maybe I can get them off to a good, albeit predictable, start: "Amerika stinks, and furthermore..."

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 7, 2011 12:13:39 PM

bill: "Maybe I can get them off to a good, albeit predictable, start: "Amerika stinks, and furthermore...""

me: Really, Bill. This nonsense again???

Posted by: virginia | Nov 7, 2011 1:39:10 PM

No virginia, the nonsense in this post/thread is the Sixth Circuit's decision. Take a look who got their asses handed to them. Judge Merritt and Judge Cole. Just another example of the learned jurists appointed to the bench by Democratic presidents. SCOTUS' decision was a serious spanking. Anyone want to take up the cudgel to explain why these two aren't hacks?

Posted by: federalist | Nov 7, 2011 1:56:48 PM

virginia --

When the vote to reverse is a per curiam 9-0, the place you can look for nonsense is the Sixth Circuit.

Still, I appreciate your relatively restrained poke at me. At least you didn't claim I'm a necrophiliac or a child molestor. If you agree with those claims, however, by all means speak up.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 7, 2011 2:17:15 PM

Unfortunately we are probably going to see the same hack decisions coming from the 4th circuit soon. Obama has appointed 5 Judges already (and Leahy has the nerve to rail on GOP obstructionism on judicial nominations) and there's still one TBD. Wynn, Davis, Diaz...I see the workload of SCOTUS and Per curiam decisions getting heavier not lighter.

Posted by: DeanO | Nov 7, 2011 7:28:02 PM

bill, if it makes you feel better, I do not believe that you are a necrophiliac or an icky perv.

but your constant refrain that people who disagree with you think that "Amerika stinks" is nonsense and makes your complaints about the personal attacks in these comment sections sound rather hypocritical.

Posted by: virginia | Nov 8, 2011 12:35:28 PM

Virginia, "Amerika" inter alia (excerpted & highlighted):

I have no doubt the U.S. "special" forces would have had to plant porn in the Bin Laden compound if it hadn't already existed there in the first place. It's just the way we roll in *AMERIKA*.
Posted by: brian williams | May 14, 2011 9:54:30 AM

This is a distraction. The only reason to release it, if it's even true, is to divert attention. Ransack a US military base and you'd find porn by the truckloads.
Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | May 14, 2011 9:12:56 AM

Instead of rallying off on each other you all might consider looking at what our own government, our own society and conscience, said was right, in the years after WWII regarding the Nazis...There was a series of trials against doctors for participating in such things as y'all want to happen in *AMERIKA*.
Such as castration without representation...
Posted by: mpb | Mar 7, 2010 4:49:31 PM
The witch hunt for so-called sex offenders is a tell-tale sign that America continues to be arrogant, self-righteous, and full of pretenders who are holier-than-thou Bible thumpers preaching about morals and the efficacy of punishment for labeled sex offenders…
If *AMERIKA* ever gets its act together and quits throwing away its citizens, perhaps I would return as a free individual. Hell will sooner freeze before that happens, though. Sorry state of affairs.
Posted by: Rick | Jan 5, 2008 9:15:48 AM
Every so called child victimizer should email George Bush their collections and make him a war criminal. This is the stupidist law in *AMERIKA*.
Posted by: M. P. Bastian | Oct 16, 2007 11:14:44 PM

"We didn't start the fire"--Billy Joel

Posted by: adamakis | Nov 8, 2011 2:19:28 PM

Virginia, uno mas sobre "Amerika" (excerpted & highlighted):

...The good news is that my five years of probation ended last July 19th...Deciding to leave what I now feel is the real terrorist state was not too difficult for me...I am still an outcast in AMERIKA, and forever will be in the country I no longer feel is my homeland, even though I was born there.

Why should I have to register with the police every year for the rest of my life because I got a massage in my apartment from someone who wanted to give me the massage? Yes, she was 15, but in many countries men and women, boys and girls of all ages walk around naked on beaches, at lakes, in public saunas, and even in parks....

That's AMERIKAN justice?...Judges that won't listen to both sides of the story should be beaten and strung up by their feet, and then beaten some more by those whom they have wronged by unjustly punishing them for too long...

And now, I actually feel good inside when I read about the horrors of that country, AMERIKA, that claims to be the land of the free, and the home of the brave. If it's such a free country, why does it have more citizens in incarceration than any other country in the world? Free, indeed. Even freedom of speech has been withdrawn in that country under the current wannabe dictator. What are American soldiers really fighting for these days?...

Most finger pointers have committed worse actions, but they just did not get caught... Here in Germany...uptight Americans would freak out if they saw what is shown on just regular television over here. Females playing strip poker, naked women masturbating in the showers or kissing each other are the commercials...and lots more..."
Posted by: Rick | Jan 6, 2008 3:27:17 AM

Posted by: adamakis | Nov 8, 2011 2:41:17 PM

Virginia, care to defend the hackery at the Sixth Circuit instead of getting worked up over Amerika?

Posted by: federalist | Nov 8, 2011 3:14:29 PM

adamakis --

Thank you. I suspect that ginny already knows that "Amerika" is standard fare among some on the extreme left, but there's nothing like a specific example.

federalist --

If I had lost 9-0 in the SCOTUS, I too would want to avoid defending the CA6 opinion. I thank you for being the one commenter here (other than Kent) who actually provides consistent legal analysis.

ginny --

"... your constant refrain that people who disagree with you think that 'Amerika stinks' is nonsense and makes your complaints about the personal attacks in these comment sections sound rather hypocritical."

Yeah, well, I'd be hypocritical if I had ever called an opposing commenter a child molestor or a necrophiliac, but, as you know, I have never come anywhere close do doing such a thing. The reason for this is not that I'm any hero. The reason is no more than that I prefer to stay clear of the sewer.

I have perfectly cordial relations with many liberals here, and, as often as not, with you. But there are people posting on this site who make it more than obvious that they do, in fact, think America (if you like) stinks.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 8, 2011 3:40:01 PM

sorry, bill, but I have to disagree with your claim that you have stayed out of the sewer. Your claim that people who disagree with you on the death penalty think that America stinks is a personal attack which is designed to silence critics. Its ironic that you cite McCarthyism in the other thread when you are using McCarthy's exact tactic of questioning the patriotism of opponents. And of course, it is the oldest play in the right wing playbook to claim that anyone who levels even the slightest criticism against or even questions the wisdom of American policy hates America. What I am saying is that the only difference between the personal attack you are complaining of and your personal attacks I see is one of degree.

but thank you for not writing Amerika stinks anymore - have you still not figured out why it annoys me so much? :)

Posted by: virginia | Nov 9, 2011 6:23:03 AM

He knows exactly why it annoys you, and that is exactly why he uses it (not specifically because it ignores you, but because he understands its effects more generally). As has been true since classical times, at least, it is an effective, if unfair and underhanded, rhetorical device.

Posted by: Anon | Nov 10, 2011 1:46:21 PM

oops, "annoys you," not "ignores you"

Posted by: Anon | Nov 10, 2011 1:46:54 PM

Anon --

I will use the vocabulary I see fit. If you don't like it, don't read the posts. One thing I will not do is employ the stunt your side has used, to wit, to say that an opponent is a child molestor and/or a necrophiliac.

You have expressed not a whit of disapproval of that, while getting bent out of shape by my use of "Amerika." Now why is that?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 10, 2011 3:17:42 PM

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