Several US Supreme Court decisions issued this week

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Via Scotusblog, the US Supreme Court issued several opinions this week:

Wood v. Allen - Interpretation of 28 USC 2254(d)(2) and its requirement that federal habeas relief not be granted, in relevant part, unless the state court's decision was based "on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding."  The issue of whether the state court unreasonably applied Strickland is not addressed. 

South Carolina v. North Carolina - original action concerning apportionment of river water, the opinion addresses the standard for a nonstate entity's intervention in an original action.

Kucana v. Holder - judicial review of discretionary immigration decisions by the Attorney General is prohibited only for determinations made discretionary by statute, not by regulation. 

Presley v. Georgia - per curiam, 7-2 - In addition to a First Amendment right of access to jury selection, there is also a Sixth Amendment right to public proceedings for the accused.  Before closing the courtroom, trial courts are obligated to take every reasonable measure to accomodate public attendance at criminal trials.

Wellons v. Hall - per curiam, 5-4 - The Court decides the defendant was entitled to discovery.  It pretty much speaks for itself:

"From beginning to end, judicial proceedings conducted for the purpose of deciding whether a defendant shall be put to death must be conducted with dignity and respect. The disturbing facts of this case raise serious questions concerning the conduct of the trial, and this petition raises a serious question about whether the Court of Appeals carefully reviewed those facts before addressing petitioner's constitutional claims. We know that the Court of Appeals committed the same procedural error that we corrected in Cone v. Bell, 556 U. S. ___, ___ (2009) (slip op., at 17-18). We do not know how the court would have ruled if it had the benefit of our decision in that case.

Petitioner Marcus Wellons was convicted in Georgia state court of rape and murder and sentenced to death. Although the trial looked typical, there were unusual events going on behind the scenes. Only after the trial did defense counsel learn that there had been unreported ex parte contacts between the jury and the judge, that jurorsand a bailiff had planned a reunion, and that "either during or immediately following the penalty phase, some jury members gave the trial judge chocolate shaped as male genitalia and the bailiff chocolate shaped as female breasts," 554 F. 3d 923, 930 (CA11 2009). The judge had not reported any of this to the defense."

 

 

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This page contains a single entry by JoNell published on January 20, 2010 7:58 AM.

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