Next Monday, the Supreme Court is going to kick off its October 2013 Term. And for the first time in a few years, it does not have any heavy duty habeas cases on the docket. That could potentially change with the results from today's long conference (to be released on October 1).
But for now, the Court only has two agenda-driven-Sixth-Circuit-error-correction cases on its habeas docket. Both of these concern review of habeas grants out of the Sixth Circuit and both will get reversed. The only question is whether any bad law for habeas petitioners, beyond the typical "no deference" analysis, will come with them.
Actually, I shouldn't be so negative. Burt v. Titlow could expand upon Lafler in a positive way. I guess we will see from the argument next week whether there is any chance for that. Unfortunately, I am not sure that there is any hope in the Woodall case. That looks like a standard 2254(d)(1) reversal. But maybe that one can buck the trend.
Here they are (issues are presented as they are in the States' cert. petitions):
(1) Burt v. Titlow, 12-414
- To Be Argued 10/8/2013
- Issues: (1) Whether the Sixth Circuit failed to give appropriate deference to a Michigan state court under Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) in holding that defense counsel was constitutionally ineffective for allowing respondent tomaintain his claim of innocence; (2) whether a convicted defendant’s subjective testimony that he would have accepted a plea but for ineffective assistance, is, standing alone, sufficient to demonstrate a reasonable probability that defendant would have accepted the plea; and (3) whether Lafler v. Cooper always requires a state trial court to resentence a defendant who shows a reasonable probability that he would have accepted a plea offer but for ineffective assistance, and to do so in such a way as to “remedy” the violation of the defendant’s constitutional right.
(2) White v. Woodall, 12-794
- To Be Argued 12/11/2013
- Issues: (1) Whether the Sixth Circuit violated 28 U.S.C. 2254(d)(1) by granting habeas relief on the trial court's failure to provide a no adverse inference instruction even though the Supreme Court has not "clearly established" that such an instruction is required in a capital penalty phase when a non-testifying defendant has pled guilty to the crimes and aggravating circumstances; and (2) whether the Sixth Circuit violated the harmless error standard in Brecht v. Abrahamson in ruling that the absence of a no adverse interference instruction was not harmless in spite of overwhelming evidence of guilt and in the face of a guilty pleas to the crimes and aggravators.
UPDATE: The Court issued an order list from the long conference today and no cert. grants in habeas cases. So it remains, for now, a relatively inactive habeas docket for the Court.