Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Habeas and Unconstitutional Deference

The Supreme Court granted petition re: the 28 USC 2254(d) deferential standard of review in the case of Bell v Kelly (SCOTUSwiki preview here). The practical issue is, how do you get to present "new" evidence that was lost previously through your lawyer's conduct or misconduct, (or the governments sleight of hand, or procedure) when the standard of review won't allow for a fresh look at all the circumstances, but only a "reasonableness" test brushing over what is already in the record below? Petitioner took issue that the state court proceedings did not afford a full and fair hearing, sufficient to consider the element of prejudice. Finding no prejudice, but affirmative deficient performance, the courts below had denied relief.

To noone's surprise, there is a split in the circuits. Technically, it might be phrased: (1) whether the deferential 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) standard should apply to a claim resting on evidence that the state court did not consider and was thus introduced for the first time on federal habeas.

It occurred to me reviewing the briefs (available at SCOTUSblog wiki) that the adverse position makes a good practical case in point for why the statute is facially unconstitutional: following the dictates requires no substantive review, contrary to the traditional, constitutional role of higher court review.

Do we want our higher courts rubber stamping decisions in other areas as well? Not, hopefully.

An argument schedule for cases in Nov. follows:

Mon., Nov. 3

Wyeth v. Levine (06-1249) — federal preemption of state drug labeling law

Ysursa v. Pocatello Education Association (07-869) — state legislative control of county and city payroll policies

Carcieri v. Kempthorne (07-526) — federal power to set aside land for Indian tribes’ use

Tues., Nov. 4

FCC v. Fox Television Stations (07-582) — scope of federal law on use of single or fleeting use of “indecent” words on radio and TV

U.S. v. Eurodif (07-1059) and USEC v. Eurodif (07-1078) — federal power to impose “anti-dumping” fees on imports (cases consolidated for one hour of argument)

Jimenez v. Quarterman (07-6894) — clarification of one-year filing deadline for habeas petitions

Wed., Nov. 5

Negusie v. Mukasey (07-499) — availability of asylum in U.S. for individual who formerly was a prison guard abroad

Van de Kamp v. Goldstein (07-854) — legal immunity for supervisors of prosecutors at the trial level

Mon., Nov. 10

Chambers v. U.S. (06-11206) — failure to report to jail as “violent felony” under federal armed career criminal law

U.S. v. Hayes (07-608) — ban on gun possession after conviction for domestic violence

Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (07-591) — right to confront at trial a forensic expert who prepared a crime lab report offered as evidence

Tues., Nov. 11 (legal holiday; no arguments)

Wed., Nov. 12

Pleasant Grove City v. Summum (07-665) — right to display religious monument on government property, including public park

Bell v. Kelly (07-1223) — scope of federal court duty in habeas to defer to state court findings

Friday, July 18, 2008

Maryland Secret Government

Speaking of secret government, check this out. Apparently, Maryland's Gov. Erlich was doing some of that too. Spying on Anti war and death penalty activists under the pretext of fighting terrorism. How the definition morphs!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Secret Government?

At this link is brief of amicus curiae, the National Archive (of Washington, D.C.) and Electronic Frontier Foundation, in the case of Doe v. Mukasey, on appeal from the US District Court, Southern District of New York. Summary of the argument: judicial review of government's demands for secrecy is necessary to protect the security of the nation and quality of government decision making.

The case has an aspect of interest for habeas watchers: it challenges an attempt by Congress to usurp the traditional role of the courts. Part of the AEDPA, governing federal judicial review of habeas corpus, does this also, and may well fall under fire from recent constitutional challenges.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Criminal Justice Symposium

A criminal justice Symposium! The press release is at the link: "Alternatives to Incarceration"

Here's the meat:

Presenters at the symposium include federal and state judges, congressional staff, professors of law and the social sciences, corrections and alternative sentencing practitioners and specialists, federal and state prosecutors and defense attorneys, prisons officials, and others involved in criminal justice. Approximately 250 individuals representing the federal and state criminal justice communities, academia, and public interest groups have been invited to attend. Topics to be examined include –

* drug courts and treatment options for certain offenders;
* alternative sentencing options in the federal and state systems;
* restorative justice-based programs;
* prison programs resulting in reduced sentences;
* the Second Chance Act and re-entry issues; and
* collateral consequences of convictions.

UPDATE: A link to "Notes" is here, authored by Kent. The Sentencing Project makes waves there. Not taken seriously by the author of the notes. Apparently the transcript will be made available in E form. HT to Doc Berman (once more).

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Texas Justice Re-redux

One more instance of a Texas exoneration, and how bad laws make everybody less safe, and life more miserable for the accused and wrongly convicted by making it easier to be wrongly convicted, at the link. Having identified the problem, let's put a stop to it. Thanks, Grits.