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December 12, 2011

Another SCOTUS summary reversal again stresses AEDPA deference

The Supreme Court issued a per curiam summary reversal this morning in Hardy v. Cross, No. 11-74 (S. Ct. Dec. 12, 2011) (available here), to once again correct a federal circuit court that did not show sufficient deference in federal habeas review to a state court decision upholding a criminal conviction. Here is how the seven-page unanimous opinion starts:

The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), 28 U. S. C. §2254, “imposes a highly deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings and demands that state-court decisions be given the benefit of the doubt.”  Felkner v. Jackson, 562 U. S. ___, ___ (2011) (per curiam) (slip op., at 4) (internal quotation marks omitted).  In this case, the Court of Appeals departed from this standard, and we therefore grant certiorari and reverse.

December 12, 2011 at 11:18 AM | Permalink


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Another day, another opinion written by a Democrat-appointed judge which blows off AEDPA.

Posted by: federalist | Dec 12, 2011 9:13:45 PM

They were clearly wrong, but to be fair, that opinion was joined by two Republican-appointed judges.

Assistant State Public Defender

Posted by: Robert Barnhart | Dec 13, 2011 10:38:44 AM

That is true, and I bet that's the last time they trust Williams to get it right. And while we're being fair, Mr. Barnhart, why don't we note that the cause of most of these summary reversals is Democratic judges? Some of them have truly awful records.

Posted by: federalist | Dec 13, 2011 11:16:27 AM

I don't understand your point about "them" trusting Williams to get it right. I assume the judges conferenced after argument, voted, and then assigned the opinion to Williams. Do you think they assigned the opinion to Williams and just blindly followed whatever he decided? Again, I think they are all probably wrong.

Without running the numbers, I am inclined to agree with your second point about summary reversals. I would be interested to know the actual numbers.

Posted by: Robert Barnhart | Dec 13, 2011 12:03:58 PM

I agree that they are responsible for what they sign off on, but I cannot imagine that the people who sign on to an opinion are as diligent as the author. And it doesn't excuse it. I bet they'll be more diligent next time.

My point was more to the reputation of Judge Williams among her colleagues.

As for the Dem judges, I don't have the numbers handy, but I follow this stuff pretty closely--the Dem judges are the problem.

Posted by: federalist | Dec 13, 2011 12:09:38 PM

I think Williams has a pretty good reputation given her history as a federal prosecutor and district court judge [appointed by Reagan]. Sometimes people make mistakes.

Posted by: Robert Barnhart | Dec 13, 2011 12:14:16 PM

Any summary reversal is bad, and this one definitely had some issues, e.g, what were they doing getting into the weeds on the reading of the trial transcript? What I suspect is the case is that the facts of the case were such that the court just lost its head. There are certainly far worse AEDPA summary reversals. Actually, I can think of a few reversals in argued cases that are worse, e.g., Bobby v. Bies.

When one thinks about the talented judges on the Seventh Circuit, Judge Ann Williams certainly doesn't leap to mind. And this certainly doesn't help.

By the way, are you sure that Judge Williams wasn't like Sotomayor? Sotomayor was appointed by Bush 41 as a district judge as part of a deal.

Posted by: federalist | Dec 13, 2011 12:46:10 PM

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