Thursday, December 14, 2006

Nelson v Quarterman

Nelson comes down in 5th Cir. This is a Penry-type capital case involving Texas jury instructions structure failing to giving "full effect" to all mitigating evidence. The State argued this is a Jurek (428 U.S.) type case erroneously contending Jurek is inconsistent with Penry according to the majority. The case hits the high notes in Capital Sentencing and the opinion reassembles and realigns AEDPA standards, according to the 5th Circuit of course; slips by the Teague rule (can't announce new rule on collateral review) of course; and the first 24 pages of the majority opinion (about 50 percent) are devoted to the current state of the law--as it was when Nelson's conviction became final (of course).

Holding: Because there is a reasonable likelihood that the jury was precluded from giving full effect to Nelson’s mitigating evidence, we hold that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals’ determination was an unreasonable application of clearly established law as announced by the Supreme Court.

More coming on Judge Dennis's concurring opinion and the dissenters (6) led by Judge Edith Jones. All told, this is 161 pages of great stuff, if you like 5th Circuit stuff and death penalty and jury issues and stuff like that. Not 6/5" quarterbacks named Manning or anything like that, but still pretty sexy. I actually prefer blonds, and ... older women, only not when I'm carrying the ball.

Read more about it at the usual links.

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