John Elwood reviews the current relists.

It’s going to be another short update this week. Not because we have other pressing engagements, although we do. This installment will be short because there are only three new relists this week, and they raise only two related issues.

All of this week’s new relists involve the Supreme Court’s 2002 opinion in Atkins v. Virginia holding that the execution of intellectually disabled criminals constitutes cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. In 2014, the court extended that ruling, concluding in Hall v. Florida that a state-law threshold requirement that defendants show an IQ test score of 70 or below before being permitted to submit intellectual-disability evidence to jurors violated the Eighth Amendment by creating an unacceptable risk that persons with intellectual disabilities would be executed.

Many of the court’s capital cases come from “Deep South” states, but this week’s first two capital relists come from the erstwhile “border state” of Tennessee. Payne v. Tennessee, 16-395, and Sims v. Tennessee, 16-445, present with respect to Hall v. Florida the question that seems inevitably to arise whenever the Court adopts a new rule of criminal procedure: whether the rule applies retroactively to cases on collateral review. [Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, is among the counsel to the petitioners in both Payne and Sims.]

That brings us to our final new relist of the week, which is a capital case from a state (Oklahoma) that has a border at the same latitude as Tennessee’s. (Have you ever seen a more awkward segue in your life?) The petitioner in Smith v. Royal, 16-7393, argues that Oklahoma has set a cutoff on intellectual-disability evidence for capital defendants who have ever obtained an IQ score over 75, and that the cutoff fails to consider the impact of obsolete testing norms, which Smith argues tend to artificially inflate IQ scores. Smith contends that the Oklahoma state courts’ refusal to consider the inflationary impact of obsolete testing norms on IQ scores is contrary to or an unreasonable application of Atkins such that it provides a basis for habeas relief under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.

A grant on either of these issues could make this term a big one for intellectual disability and capital punishment, since the court is already considering in Moore v. Texas, 15-797, whether the use of outdated standards on intellectual disability violates the Eighth Amendment.

With that, we can all go back to never retweeting anything ever again. Until next time!

Thanks to Bryan U. Gividen for compiling the cases in this post.

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Returning Relists

Salazar-Limon v. City of Houston
16-515
Issue: Whether, when a police officer shoots an unarmed person in the back and the person testifies that he was merely walking away when shot, a court may grant summary judgment to the officer in a suit for excessive force by concluding that it is an “undisputed fact” that the person reached for his waistband just because the officer said he did.

(relisted after the February 17, February 24 and March 3 conferences)

 

Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission
16-111
Issue: Whether applying Colorado’s public accommodations law to compel the petitioner to create expression that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage violates the free speech or free exercise clauses of the First Amendment.

(relisted after the February 24 and March 3 conferences)

 

New Relists

Payne v. Tennessee
16-395
Issue: Whether the court’s decision in Hall v. Florida must be applied retroactively on collateral review.
Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, is among the counsel to the petitioner in this case.

(Relisted after the March 3 conference)

 

Sims v. Tennessee
16-445
Issue: Whether the court’s decision in Hall v. Florida must be applied retroactively on collateral review.
Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, is among the counsel to the petitioner in this case.

(Relisted after the March 3 conference)

 

Smith v. Royal
16-7393
Issue: Whether refusal to consider the inflationary impact of obsolete testing norms on IQ scores is contrary to or an unreasonable application of Atkins v. Virginia when a state employs a cutoff IQ score of 75 on a single test to preclude Atkins relief.

(Relisted after the March 3 conference)

Posted in Cases in the Pipeline, Featured

Recommended Citation: John Elwood, Relist Watch, SCOTUSblog (Mar. 16, 2017, 9:49 AM), http://www.scotusblog.com/2017/03/relist-watch-100/