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?
The November sitting will begin on Monday, October 31; the calendar for that sitting is available on the court's website. On Friday, the justices will meet for their October 28 conference; our list of "petitions to watch" for that conference is available here.
Bank of America Corp. v. City of Miami (1) Whether, by limiting suit to “aggrieved person[s],” Congress required that a Fair Housing Act plaintiff plead more than just Article III injury-in-fact; and (2) whether proximate cause requires more than just the possibility that a defendant could have foreseen that the remote plaintiff might ultimately lose money through some theoretical chain of contingencies.
Moore v. Texas (1) Whether it violates the Eighth Amendment and this Court’s decisions in Hall v. Florida and Atkins v. Virginia to prohibit the use of current medical standards on intellectual disability, and require the use of outdated medical standards, in determining whether an individual may be executed.
Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado Whether a no-impeachment rule constitutionally may bar evidence of racial bias offered to prove a violation of the Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury.
Kuenzel v. Alabama Whether it is fundamentally unfair and violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to require a capital habeas petitioner to bring a successive state habeas petition within six months of the discovery of previously unproduced evidence pursuant to Alabama Rule of Criminal Procedure 32.2(c), when Alabama Code § 6-5-440 would have simultaneously barred such a suit.