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Relist watch

John Elwood reviews Monday’s relisted cases.

Now that we’ve all finished up calculating how much we need to pay for civilized society this year (and taken a hard look at precisely how many of life’s bare essentials we can afford in the coming year, assuming that our rock-solid investments in gold and bitcoin pan out), we can turn back to life’s third certainty: Relist Watch.

Since it’s a wellknown fact that high-ranking government officials don’t need to file tax returns, the Justices were free to devote their time before April 15 to other pressing matters.  That did not include disposing of any pending relists:  all four from our last installment are back for another spin in the  This includes Ninth Circuit state-on-top habeas case Nevada v. Jackson, 12-694; Ninth Circuit state-on-top habeas case Chappell v. Phillips, 12-544; Chappell’s Doublemint twin, Phillips v. Chappell, 12-5890; and Seventh Circuit Establishment Clause case Elmbrook School District v. Doe, 12-755 (now with improved visual aids).  In extra-relist news, the Justices did, however, finally resolve the hundred-odd Florida criminal cases involving the constitutionality of removing the nature of an illegal substance as an element of the offense of possessing it, which had been hanging around the docket for a while (previously discussed here, here, here, and here).

Three new relists join the mix this week.  First up is Strouth v. Colson, 12-7720, yet another habeas case out of the Sixth Circuit, this time with the prisoner on top.  The now-comfortably-over-the-hill Strouth was just nineteen years old when, in 1978, he was sentenced to death in a Tennessee court for the robbery and murder of a used-clothing store merchant.  According to the petition, Strouth’s counsel was inexperienced and did not pursue relevant evidence such that it was only on collateral review that Strouth was found to be brain damaged and suffering from schizophrenia.  But the Sixth Circuit denied habeas relief, reasoning that, under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1) as interpreted in Cullen v. Pinholster, it could only consider the then-existing record when reviewing the state court’s resolution of Strouth’s claim.  Strouth claims he should be able to prevail based on the newly discovered evidence, or on an ineffective-assistance of counsel claim not raised below, because his failure to present those arguments in the best possible light was the “consequence of [a] constrained process that is inadequate to develop the factual record,” i.e., the Tennessee courts did not provide him sufficient moola.

The Court appears close to going to an all-habeas, all-the-time format, because the other two newbies are also of that ilk.  In fact, Hammond v. Sheets, 12-691, out of the Sixth Circuit, and Gallow v. Cooper, 12-7516, out of the Fifth, raise nearly identical Cullen and Martinez v. Ryan issues as Strouth, just in different factual contexts.  Hammond was convicted of rape in Ohio state court, which carried a mandatory life sentence because the victim was under the age of ten.  The defendant in Gallow is currently serving a thirty-year sentence in a Louisiana state prison after pleading guilty to aggravated battery – a plea he says he made only because of his trial attorney’s errors.

The Court will be in Conference again this Friday, so unless Uncle Sam mixes up my tax refund with Facebook’s, we’ll be back here next week with another vain attempt at feigning insight.

Thanks to Conor McEvily and Eric White for compiling and drafting this update.

[page]12-691[/page] (relisted after the April 12 Conference)


[page]12-7516[/page] (relisted after the April 12 Conference)


[page]12-7720[/page] (relisted after the April 12 Conference)


[page]12-544[/page] (relisted after the March 29 and April 12 Conferences)


[page]12-5890[/page] (relisted after the March 29 and April 12 Conferences)


[page]12-755[/page] (relisted after the March 22, March 29, and April 12 Conferences)


[page]12-694[/page] (relisted after the March 15, March 22, March 29, and April 12 Conferences)

Recommended Citation: John Elwood, Relist watch, SCOTUSblog (Apr. 16, 2013, 3:50 PM),