Issue: (1) In Strickland v. Washington, this Court held there exists a Sixth Amendment constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel at all stages of criminal trials, including the obligation to investigate before selecting a defense. In Cullen v. Pinholster, this Court reiterated Strickland controls for trial counsel’s obligation to investigate all phase of a capital case. Did the Ninth Circuit err in creating a new law of the Circuit that held, pursuant to the Ninth’s reading of Pinholster, trial counsel has no constitutional duty to conduct any investigation into police reports, ballistics, and crime scene photos before selecting a defense? (2)This Court has established a clear “law of the case doctrine.” In 2001 the Ninth Circuit held Phillips’s right to effective assistance of counsel, within the meaning of Strickland, had been violated because counsel conducted no investigation before selecting a defense. In its latest decision the Ninth Circuit found it was “compelled” to overturn the 2001 decision in light of this Court’s ruling in Pinholster that the Sixth Amendment does no impose a “constitutional duty to investigate” in capital cases. Was it a violation of Phillips’s constitutionally protected right to Due Process under the Fourteenth Amendment when the Ninth Circuit declined to follow this Court’s law of the case doctrine?
On Monday at 9:30 a.m. we expect orders from the April 24 Conference. We expect one or more opinions in argued cases at 10 a.m. on Wednesday. We will be live-blogging beginning at 9:45.
This is the second week of the April sitting. On Tuesday the Court will hear oral argument in Obergefell v. Hodges, which is consolidated with three other cases, on the questions of whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires that states grant and/or recognize same-sex marriages. We will be live-blogging updates from the oral argument beginning at 11 a.m.
Glossip v. Gross The constitutionality under the Eighth Amendment of using a sedative as the first drug in a death penalty protocol.