At its Conference on January 23, 2015, the Court will consider petitions seeking review of issues such as judicial immunity under Section 1983, a general appeal waiver in a challenge to a restitution order, and the interpretation of the term “habitual residence” in the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

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.  Our policy is to include and disclose all cases in which Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, represents either a party or an amicus in the case, with the exception of the rare cases in which Goldstein & Russell represents the respondent(s) but does not appear on the briefs in the case.


Issue(s): Whether the majority of United States courts should continue to interpret the term “habitual residence” in the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction in a manner that directly conflicts with the global consensus outside the United States, the views of the Third, Sixth and Eighth Circuits, and the plain meaning of the term.


Issue(s): Whether this Court should revisit Stump v. Sparkman to elucidate it and hold that judicial immunity from civil suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 does not extend to the presiding judge's admitted non-judicial conduct in this case.


Issue(s): Whether the Eighth Amendment requires that a capital-sentencing jury be affirmatively instructed that mitigating circumstances “need not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” as the Kansas Supreme Court held in this case, or instead whether the Eighth Amendment is satisfied by instructions that, in context, make clear that each juror must individually assess and weigh any mitigating circumstances.


Issue(s): Whether a general appeal waiver bars a challenge to a restitution order.




Issue(s): (1) Whether the former Texas special issues for death penalty sentencing do provide – as the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals held – or do not provide – as the Fifth Circuit has held – an appropriate vehicle for the jury to consider and give full effect to mitigating evidence of good character, such that failure to provide a separate question violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments under this Court’s jurisprudence in Penry v. Lynaugh and Penry v. Johnson; (2) whether a conviction aided by the prosecution's failure to produce evidence that contradicted its theory and showed that the evidence it did rely upon and the resulting jury arguments were false violates the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments under this Court's Brady v. Maryland jurisprudence; and (3) whether executing a defendant who has already served more than thirty years on death row while exercising his legal rights in a non-abusive manner serves any penological purpose and amounts to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.


Issue(s): Whether, where a prosecutor voluntarily discloses during post-conviction proceedings that he withheld impeachment evidence from the defense during the course of a capital case, and that he believed from his personal interaction with the key witness in the case that he was a liar, due process requires that the conviction be vacated and a new trial ordered.


Issue(s): (1) Whether, for purposes of determining when an entity is an “agent” of a “foreign state” under the first clause of the commercial activity exception of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(2), the express definition of “agency” in the FSIA, the factors set forth in First National City Bank v. Banco Para el Comercio Exterior de Cuba, or common law principles of agency, control; and (2) whether, under the first clause of the commercial activity exception of the FSIA, 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(2), a tort claim for personal injuries suffered in connection with travel outside of the United States is “based upon” the allegedly tortious conduct occurring outside of the United States or the preceding sale of the ticket in the United States for the travel entirely outside the United States. CVSG: 12/15/2014.



Posted in Everything Else

Recommended Citation: Maureen Johnston, Petitions to watch | Conference of January 23, SCOTUSblog (Jan. 22, 2015, 11:40 AM),