Editor's Note :

close editor's note Editor's Note :

We're currently hosting a symposium on Tuesday's decision in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. Click to follow along.
We also hosted a symposium on Monday's decision in June Medical Services v. Russo. Click to read the submissions.

Briefly Mentioned :

Briefly Noted :

On Thursday, the court released orders from the July 1 conference. The justices granted five cases for a total of four hours of oral argument next term.
On Monday, we expect the court to release opinions at 10 a.m. We will be live-blogging starting at 9:20 a.m. at this link, where you can sign up for an email reminder when the live blog begins.

Cullen v. Pinholster

Docket No. Op. Below Argument Opinion Vote Author Term
09-1088 9th Cir. Nov 9, 2010
Apr 4, 2011 7-2 Thomas OT 2010

Holding: Review under the federal habeas law is limited to the record that was before the state court which ruled on the claim on the merits. Moreover, on the record that was before the state court, Pinholster was not entitled to federal habeas relief.

Plain English Holding: When an inmate challenges his state death sentence on the grounds that his trial counsel was ineffective in failing to present adequate mitigating evidence, a federal habeas court may only consider the evidence the inmate presented in support of that claim in the state courts. The Ninth Circuit erred in concluding that, on the basis of the state record alone, the inmate was entitled to habeas relief on his ineffective assistance of counsel claim.

Judgment: Reversed, 7-2, in an opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas on April 4, 2011. The Chief Justice and Justices Scalia and Kennedy joined the decision in full; Justice Alito joined the decision as to all but Part II of the Court’s opinion; Justice Breyer joined the decision as to Parts I and II, and Justices Ginsburg and Kagan joined the decision as to Part II. Justice Alito filed a separate opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment; Justice Breyer also filed a separate opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part. Justice Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion, which Justices Ginsburg and Kagan joined in part.

SCOTUSblog Coverage

Briefs and Documents

Merits Briefs

Amicus Briefs

Certiorari-Stage Documents

Term Snapshot
At a Glance