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February 28, 2022

Another SCOTUS order list with a dissent by Justice Sotomayor as only criminal justice news

With the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to be the next Justice and with the current Justices expected to hand down some new opinions soon, there may be some SCOTUS criminal justice intrigue in the coming week.  But the SCOTUS week started today with this 19-page order list that has very little for criminal justice fans save a lengthy solo dissent from Justice Sotomayor.

Specifically, after all the cert denials and a statement in a religious liberty case from four Justices, Justice Sotomayor has a dissent from the denial of certiorari in Holcombe v. Florida, No. 21–53, which starts this way:

An attorney jointly represented four codefendants in a criminal case.  As trial neared, two of the defendants accepted plea deals and agreed to testify against the other two: James Dale Holcombe, the petitioner here, and his father, Dale Chester Holcombe.  This created a conflict of interest that even the prosecutor deemed nonwaivable.  Nevertheless, the trial court refused defense counsel’s offer to withdraw from representing the cooperating codefendants and neglected to conduct a detailed inquiry into the nature and extent of the conflict.  The case went to trial, and Holcombe’s attorney cross-examined his two cooperating clients, whose sentences depended on the quality of the testimony they provided against Holcombe. Holcombe was convicted, and the Florida Court of Appeal affirmed.  Because this Court’s precedents require vacating Holcombe’s conviction, I would summarily reverse.

I flag at the beginning of this post the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson because I think it quite possible, perhaps even likely, that a Justice Jackson might be somewhat more inclined that some of the other Justices to join on to Justice Sotomayor's frequent separate statements in criminal cases.

February 28, 2022 at 11:18 AM | Permalink


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