Petitions of the week
on Dec 27, 2018 at 10:00 am
This week we highlight petitions pending before the Supreme Court that address, among other things, the constitutional adequacy of the “aggravating circumstances” used by a state to sentence a person to death, the scope of a defendant’s Sixth and 14th Amendment right to conflict-free counsel, and whether the use of a name is a “means of identification of another person” under 18 U.S.C. § 1028A.
The petitions of the week are:
Issue: Whether a criminal defendant is deprived of his Sixth and 14th Amendment right to conflict-free counsel when his lawyer is paid by a third party; the third party threatens to withhold payment unless the lawyer conducts the defense in a manner that serves the third party’s interests; the lawyer does not inform his client or the court of the conflict; and the lawyer in fact conducts the defense in a manner that serves the third-party payer’s interests and sacrifices the client’s interests.
Issues: (1) Whether certain of the “aggravating circumstances” used by Idaho to determine whether a defendant may be sentenced to death—those that ask whether the crime was especially “heinous, atrocious or cruel, manifesting exceptional depravity”; whether the defendant exhibited “utter disregard for human life”; and whether the defendant “has exhibited a propensity to commit murder”—fail to provide sentencing juries with constitutionally adequate guidance; and (2) whether Idaho’s felony-murder aggravating circumstance, which substantially duplicates Idaho’s felony-murder statute, violates the constitutional requirement that Idaho sufficiently narrow the class of persons subject to the death penalty.
Issue: Whether the use of a name, without more, constitutes the use of a “means of identification of another person” under 18 U.S.C. § 1028A.