June 01, 2009

Supreme Court Review

The Supreme Court released its oral argument calendar for the first sitting of the Term that opens on Monday, October 5, 2009.  Newly confirmed Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor will be on the bench as the Term begins.  A complete schedule of the upcoming oral arguments can be found at http://www.supremecourtus.gov/oral_arguments/argument_calendars.html.  The following scheduled arguments may be of interest to those concerned with capital punishment and criminal law:

October 5: Maryland v. Shatzer (08-680) — limits on police questioning after a suspect asks for a lawyer.  Does Edwards v. Arizona (1981), which bars police from initiating questioning with criminal suspects who have invoked their right to counsel, apply to an interrogation that takes place nearly three years later?

October 6: Bloate v. U.S. (08-728) — calculation of time of pre-trial stages under federal Speedy Trial Act.  The issue in this case is whether time granted at the request of a defendant to prepare pretrial motions qualifies as “delay resulting from other proceedings concerning the defendant” and is thus excludable from the time within which trial must commence under the Speedy Trial Act of 1974, 18 U.S.C. 3161 et seq. 

October 13: McDaniel v. Brown (08-559) — standard for federal habeas review of strength of evidence.  The Court will determine whether on federal habeas review, the evidence underlying the defendant’s conviction for sexual assault was clearly insufficient under Jackson v. Virginia (1979).

Padilla v. Kentucky (08-651) — effect of defense lawyer’s wrong advice on consequences of a guilty plea.  Does the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of effective assistance of counsel require a criminal defense attorney to advise a non-citizen client that pleading guilty to an aggravated felony will trigger mandatory, automatic deportation? If misadvice about deportation induces a guilty plea, can that misadvice amount to ineffective assistance of counsel and warrant setting aside the guilty plea?  

Smith v. Spisak (08-724) — unanimity of jury as an issue in finding mitigating evidence in a capital case.  Did the Sixth Circuit contravene AEDPA by improperly extending Mills v. Maryland?