Supreme Court Review-Preview-Overview

An up-to-date outline of Supreme Court criminal cases
is available here. It covers pending cert grants and decisions from the past and current Terms. Other "cites" of interest are available here.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Gall & Kimbrough Briefs Filed

A host of remarkable briefs have been filed in the two pending sentencing guidelines cases addressing reasonableness review, Gall v. United States and Kimbrough v. United States. I have a number of them, which you can access for your weekend reading pleasure. Merits briefs in Gall and Kimbrough. Two amicus briefs by the Federal Public & Community Defenders and National Association of Federal Defenders, one in Gall and the other in Kimbrough. Plus FAMM was a friend to Gall, while NACDL was a friend to both. The Sentencing Project and the Center for the Study of Race and Law, ACLU and NAACP-LDF joined to support Kimbrough. Washington Legal Foundation and NYCDL supported Gall. Briefing is diverse and well-crafted, covering the very broad spectrum of issues and concerns these two cases bring to the Court.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Panetti: Remand for Ford Mental Illness Review

In Panetti v. Quarterman, No. 06-6407 (June 28, 2007), the Supreme Court reversed the denial of habeas relief to a Texas inmate sentenced to death despite his well-documented history of mental illness.
The Court first held that the limitation on "second and successive" habeas petitions did not require dismissal of Panetti’s claim that his mental illness rendered him incompetent to be executed, because Panetti raised the claim as soon as it was ripe – and it became ripe after he had filed his first habeas petition.
Turning to the merits, the Court found that the state courts failed to give Panetti an opportunity to present his expert evidence on his mental condition. The Court further held that the Fifth Circuit had applied too restrictive an interpretation of Ford v. Wainwright, 477 U.S. 399 (1986), when it found that Panetti’s ability to link his punishment to his crime defeated the claim of mental illness. The Court stated that Ford required that the defendant have a rational understanding of the State’s rationale for executing him. The Court therefore remanded the case to develop an evidentiary record on whether Panetti met the Ford criteria.