At its May 17, 2012 Conference, the Court will consider such issues as the presumption of accuracy of intelligence reports in Guantanamo habeas decisions, standing to challenge the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the standard of federal habeas review for state court factual determinations, and the burden of proof for affirmative defenses in a criminal case.  This edition of “Petitions to watch” features petitions raising issues that Tom has determined to have a reasonable chance of being granted, although we post them here without consideration of whether they present appropriate vehicles in which to decide those issues.

Latif v. Obama

Docket: 11-1027
Issue(s): (1) Whether requiring the district court to presume the accuracy of intelligence reports denies Guantanamo habeas petitioners the “meaningful opportunity” to contest the lawfulness of their detention guaranteed by Boumediene v. Bush; (2) whether a court of appeals’ substitution of its own analysis of the record evidence for that of a district court in a habeas case, where there is no finding that the district court committed clear error, improperly intrudes upon the fact-finding function of the district court and exceeds the appellate function of the court of appeals; and (3) whether the court of appeals’ manifest unwillingness to allow Guantanamo detainees to prevail in their habeas corpus cases calls for the exercise of this Court’s supervisory power.

Certiorari stage documents:

Clapper v. Amnesty International USA (Granted )

Docket: 11-1025
Issue(s): Whether respondents lack Article III standing to seek prospective relief because they proffered no evidence that the United States would imminently acquire their international communications using 50 U.S.C. 1881a-authorized surveillance and did not show that an injunction prohibiting Section 1881a-authorized surveillance would likely redress their purported injuries.

Certiorari stage documents:

Howes v. Walker (Granted )

Docket: 11-1011
Issue(s): (1) Whether 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2)’s invitation to decide the reasonableness of a state-court factual determination fits with 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1)’s command that an underlying state-court fact determination must be presumed correct; (2) whether the Sixth Circuit violated Section 2254(d)(1) of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) by granting habeas relief on a purportedly unreasonable application of state law; and (3) whether the Sixth Circuit violated AEDPA § 2254(d)(1) by asserting its own prejudice standard – that a defendant “must only show that he had a substantial defense” – rather than this Court’s clearly established law as set forth in Strickland v. Washington, that prejudice requires a showing that, but for counsel’s error, there is a reasonable probability of a different outcome.

Certiorari stage documents:

Kerestes v. Pabon

Docket: 11-958
Issue(s): (1) Whether limited knowledge of English qualifies as an "extraordinary circumstance" justifying equitable tolling of the habeas corpus filing deadline; and (2) whether, in evaluating requests for certificates of appealability under the habeas corpus statute, federal courts of appeals may disregard the deference requirement and instead apply a de novo standard?

Certiorari stage documents:

Cases involving lawyers from Goldstein & Russell (listed without regard to the likelihood of being granted):

Pickering v. Colorado

Note: Goldstein & Russell, P.C. serves as counsel to the petitioner this case.
Docket: 11-870
Issue(s): When the accused in a criminal case properly raises a defense that negates an element of the charged crime, does the Due Process Clause require the prosecution to disprove that defense?

Certiorari stage documents:


The following petitions have been re-listed for the conference of May 17.  If any other paid petitions are redistributed for this conference, we will add them below as soon as their redistribution is noted on the docket.

Coleman v. Johnson (Granted )

Docket: 11-1053
Issue(s): (1) Whether the court of appeals’ grant of habeas relief based on a finding that the Pennsylvania courts misapplied Pennsylvania law should be reversed given that it conflicts with this Court’s holdings that it is not the province of a federal habeas court to examine state court application of state law and that only noncompliance with clearly-established federal law will render a state’s criminal judgment susceptible to collateral attack in federal court; (2) whether the court of appeals’ refusal to credit factual inferences favorable to the prosecution in connection with its Jackson v. Virginia analysis due to its subjective view that those inferences do not “more likely than not flow from” the trial evidence should be reversed given that it conflicts with this Court's holdings that a federal habeas court conducting a Jackson review must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, presume that the jury resolved any conflicting factual inferences in favor of the prosecution, and defer to that resolution; (3) whether the court of appeals’ determination, which patently relies upon its own subjective conclusions regarding witness credibility and the proper weight to be accorded the record evidence, should be reversed given that it contravenes this Court’s repeated admonitions that a federal habeas court conducting a Jackson review is strictly forbidden from substituting its judgment for that of the jury on weight and credibility issues; (4) whether the court of appeals’ determination, which relies upon a definition of accomplice liability that conflicts with Pennsylvania law, should be reversed given this Court’s holdings that a federal habeas court engaged in a Jackson analysis must apply the substantive elements of the criminal offense as defined by state law; and (5) whether the court of appeals’ de facto finding that the state courts’ conviction was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented should be reversed given that it fails to acknowledge or address the presumption of correctness that must be afforded the factual inferences drawn by the state courts pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(l) and therefore conflicts with this Court’s holdings that the presumption of correctness afforded state court factual findings cannot be overridden absent clear and convincing contrary evidence.

Certiorari stage documents:

Comcast v. Behrend (Granted )

Note: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys work for or contribute to this blog in various capacities, is among the counsel to the respondents in this case.
Docket: 11-864
Issue(s): Whether a district court may certify a class action without resolving whether the plaintiff class has introduced admissible evidence, including expert testimony, to show that the case is susceptible to awarding damages on a class-wide basis.

Certiorari stage documents:

Posted in Cases in the Pipeline

Recommended Citation: Matthew Bush, Petitions to watch | Conference of May 17, 2012, SCOTUSblog (May. 15, 2012, 11:45 AM),