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October 31, 2022

Previewing SCOTUS argument on federal statutory collateral review mechanisms

Though the Supreme Court's oral argument today in the affirmative action cases is understandably garnering lots of attention, criminal justice fans should not forget that tomorrow brings oral argument in a big interesting federal CJ case with Jones v. HendrixThis SCOTUSblog preview, titled "On the narrow road to challenge a federal conviction, when is a vehicle 'inadequate'?," provides a detailed preview that starts this way:

On Tuesday, the justices will hear argument in Jones v. Hendrix, the latest in a string of cases that raise profound questions about the rights of prisoners who claim to be innocent to challenge their convictions. Last year, the court restricted the ability of state prisoners to develop new evidence to support claims that their attorneys failed to investigate leads that could have shown they were factually innocent.  Jones involves a federal prisoner who is legally innocent — the conduct a jury found he committed isn’t a crime.  But should that fact relieve him from his 27-year prison sentence?  In the Supreme Court’s habeas corpus jurisprudence, the answer is never simple.  Indeed, the case comes before the court as a three-way split: the petitioner, Marcus DeAngelo Jones, challenged his conviction in a federal habeas petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, arguing that the “motion to vacate” his conviction provided by 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is inadequate to afford him relief.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit ruled he cannot pursue a petition because he already filed a motion under Section 2255, which bars him from filing a successive petition, and he should have raised his claim earlier.  The federal government — which prosecuted Jones — says the 8th Circuit got the reasoning wrong but the outcome right: It urges the Supreme Court to correct the lower court’s error but deny Jones relief. 

And here are a couple of additional previews of Jones, which seems to me to be the most important federal criminal law case of the current SCOTUS Term to date:

From JD Supra, "Jones v. Hendrix: An Attempt to Save 28 U.S.C. § 2255’s 'Saving Clause'"

From Law360, "Habeas Case May Open Prison Door For Retroactive Innocents"

October 31, 2022 at 05:26 PM | Permalink

Comments

Reading through the transcripts, it seems like Jones is a convoluted enough case that there is a chance that five justices will say he gets to proceed to the merits. But I am not seeing five justices who will want to convert a potential error of state law (the proper interpretation of a rule governing what claims can be raised in collateral review) into a federal issue that would permit the Supreme Court to second guess Arizona's interpretation of its own rules when that rule is not facially invalid.

Posted by: tmm | Nov 1, 2022 4:55:51 PM

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