The Court has granted cert. in two cases,  Los Angeles County v. Humphries (09-350) and  Harrington v. Richter (09-587).  In the former case, the Court has limited the questions presented to the first one (see below).  In the latter case, the Court has directed the parties to address a question in addition to those raised in the petition: Does AEDPA deference apply to a state court’s summary disposition of a claim including a claim under Strickland v. Washington?

[ADDITION, 8 p.m.: The original version of this post did not state that the questions presented in Los Angeles County v. Humphries were limited to the first question.]

The Solicitor General is invited to file a brief expressing the views of the United States in two cases: CSX Transportation v. Alabama Department of Revenue (09-520) and Ortho Biotech Products v. United States ex rel. Duxbury (09-654).

There are two unanimous summary dispositions: In Wilkins v. Gaddy (08-10914) the judgment of the lower court is reversed and remanded for further proceedings; in Thaler v. Haynes (09-273), the lower court’s judgment is also reversed and remanded.  Justice Thomas filed a concurrence, joined by Justice Scalia, in Wilkins.

The full order list is here.  Briefs in cases acted on follow the jump.

Title: Los Angeles County v. Humphries
Docket: 09-350
Issues: (1) For a claim for declaratory relief against a local public entity, must the plaintiff demonstrate that the constitutional violation was the result of a policy, custom or practice attributable to the local public entity; and (2) if the plaintiff has not made such a showing, may he or she be a "prevailing party" under 42 U.S.C. § 1988 for purposes of a fee award?

Title: Harrington v. Richter
Docket: 09-587
Issue: Does a defense lawyer violate the Sixth Amendment right to the effective assistance of counsel when he does not investigate or present available forensic evidence supporting the theory of defense he uses during trial and instead relies on cross-examination and other methods designed to create reasonable doubt about the defendant's guilt?

Title: CSX Transportation, Inc. v. Alabama Department of Revenue
Docket: 09-520
Issue: Whether a state's exemption of railroad competitors, but not railroads, from a generally applicable sales and use tax is subject to challenge as "another tax that discriminates against a rail carrier" under Section 306(1)(d) of the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976, 49 U.S.C. § 11501(b)(4).

Title: Ortho Biotech Products v. United States ex rel. Duxbury
Docket: 09-654
Issues: (1) Whether a federal court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over a qui tam suit under the False Claims Act that repeats publicly disclosed allegations from prior litigation, when the FCA relator did not provide the government with information on the suit's allegations before the public disclosure; and (2) whether an FCA relator, alleging that the defendant induced a third party to submit false or fraudulent claims, can satisfy Rule 9(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure without identifying a single false or fraudulent claim, but merely by alleging facts sufficient "to strengthen the inference of fraud beyond possibility."

Title: Thaler v. Haynes
Docket: 09-273
Issues: (1) Whether a new trial is required solely because the trial judge observed the prosecutor's unrebutted explanation for a juror strike, but did not also observe voir dire firsthand? (2) Was this purported right to a new trial "clearly established" at the time of trial in 1999, as required under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act?; and does this right prevent federal courts from applying the presumption of correctness to the state court finding that the peremptory strike was not racially motivated, as required under the AEDPA?

Posted in Cases in the Pipeline, What's Happening Now