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Checking up on a capital case

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered a Philadelphia lawyer to answer his client’s protest that an appeal challenging his death sentence should not have been filed in the Court. In a brief order, the Court denied the petition (Ballard v. Pennsylvania) but simultaneously called for a response from the attorney who filed it.

The petition was filed on February 7 by Marc Bookman, an attorney with the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation in Philadelphia.  Prosecutors urged the Supreme Court not to grant review.

In a letter dated June 2 and filed at the Court on June 10, the client, Michael E. Ballard, said he had learned from the media that “an appeal has been filed on my behalf contesting my death sentence.  I never authorized anyone to file anything on my behalf.  I am not appealing this sentence any further than it has been.”

He went on to urge the Court to reject the petition, saying that the defense attorney had “acted without my authorization, without my knowledge even.  They are attempting to secure themselves as ‘attorney’s of record’ so as to circumvent having to obtain my authorization.  And lastly, but most important, they are acting against my own wishes to waive my appeals.”

It is unclear what actions the Court might yet take after it received attorney Bookman’s reply.


Recommended Citation: Lyle Denniston, Checking up on a capital case, SCOTUSblog (Jun. 23, 2014, 10:48 AM),