In its conference of October 14, 2016, the court will consider petitions involving issues such as whether a sentencing judge’s exercise of discretion not to impose a death sentence is the functional equivalent of the findings required under Montgomery v. Louisiana to impose a sentence of life without parole on a juvenile offender; whether a state court violates a petitioner’s federal due process rights when it denies a new trial and DNA testing in an actual innocence case in which newly discovered evidence demonstrates that the only physical evidence linking the petitioner to the crime scene was based upon inaccurate forensic science and false expert testimony; and whether a law that makes it a felony for any person on the state’s registry of former sex offenders to “access” a wide array of websites that enable communication, expression, and the exchange of information among their users, if the site is “know[n]” to allow minors to have accounts, is permissible.

15-1194

Disclosure: Vinson & Elkins LLP, whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, is among the counsel to the petitioner in this case.
Issue: Whether, under the court’s First Amendment precedents, a law that makes it a felony for any person on the state’s registry of former sex offenders to “access” a wide array of websites – including Facebook, YouTube, and nytimes.com – that enable communication, expression, and the exchange of information among their users, if the site is “know[n]” to allow minors to have accounts, is permissible, both on its face and as applied to petitioner, who was convicted based on a Facebook post in which he celebrated dismissal of a traffic ticket, declaring “God is Good!”

15-1384

Issue: Whether an individual inside a parked vehicle is seized within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution when a police officer activates a cruiser’s emergency lights while positioned directly behind the parked vehicle, approaches the vehicle, knocks on the window of the vehicle, and directs the occupant to roll down the window.

15-7848

Issues: (1) Whether capital defense counsel may decide to present evidence of a single mitigating factor without having first conducted a thorough investigation of other potential mitigating factors and whether counsel’s post-hoc concern about possible rebuttal evidence justifies the failure to investigate; and (2) whether, where a state court provides a reasoned decision denying relief, 18 U.S.C. Section 2254(d) permits a federal court to ignore the reasoning of the state court and substitute its own reasons for denying relief and whether the violent nature of the crime lessens the prejudice from unconstitutional shackling.

15-8842

Issues: (1) Whether a sentencing judge’s exercise of discretion not to impose a death sentence is the functional equivalent of the findings required under Montgomery v. Louisiana to impose a sentence of life without parole on a juvenile offender; and (2) if not, whether the court should vacate the decision of the Arizona Court of Appeals and remand for further consideration in light of Montgomery.

16-5247

Issue: Whether a state court violates a petitioner’s federal due process rights when it denies a new trial and DNA testing in an actual innocence case in which newly discovered evidence demonstrates that the only physical evidence linking the petitioner to the crime scene was based upon inaccurate forensic science and false expert testimony.

Posted in Cases in the Pipeline

Recommended Citation: Kate Howard, Petitions to watch | Conference of October 14, SCOTUSblog (Oct. 12, 2016, 3:56 PM), https://www.scotusblog.com/2016/10/petitions-to-watch-conference-of-october-14/