Cert Petitions Granted with Decision Pending

The Supreme Court has granted certiorari in the following cases involving issues of interest to capital habeas litigators:

Jones v. Hendrix21-857 (cert. petition granted May 16, 2022)
(case below: 8 F.4th 683 (8th Cir.))

Question presented:

     Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, federal inmates can collaterally challenge their convictions on any ground cognizable on collateral review, with successive attacks limited to certain claims that indicate factual innocence or that rely on constitutional-law decisions made retroactive by this Court. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(h). 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e), however, also allows inmates to collaterally challenge their convictions outside this process through a traditional habeas action under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 whenever it “appears that the remedy by [§ 2255] motion is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of [their] detention.”

     The question presented is whether federal inmates who did not—because established circuit precedent stood firmly against them—challenge their convictions on the ground that the statute of conviction did not criminalize their activity may apply for habeas relief under § 2241 after this Court later makes clear in a retroactively applicable decision that the circuit precedent was wrong and that they are legally innocent of the crime of conviction.

Click here to view the certiorari petition.  Click here to view Brief for Petitioner. Click here to view Habeas Scholars as Amici Curiae in Support of Petitioner.  Click here to view Brief of National Association of Federal Defenders as Amicus Curiae in Support of Petitioner.  Click here to view Brief of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, et. al., in Support of Petitioner.  Click here to view the Brief of the Respondent.  Argument will be heard on November 1, 2022.

Reed v. Goertz, 21-442 (cert. petition granted April 25, 2022)
(case below: 995 F.3d 495 (5th Cir.))

Question presented:

     In Skinner v. Switzer, 562 U.S. 521, 524-25 (2011), this Court held that state prisoners may pursue post-conviction claims for DNA testing of crime-scene evidence in a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court made clear that a prisoner bringing such a § 1983 claim may seek “to show that the governing state law denies him procedural due process” after he has unsuccessfully sought DNA testing under available state procedures. Id. at 525, 530.

     The question presented is whether the statute of limitations for a § 1983 claim seeking DNA testing of crime-scene evidence begins to run at the end of state court litigation denying DNA testing, including any appeals (as the Eleventh Circuit has held), or whether it begins to run at the moment the state trial court denies DNA testing, despite any subsequent appeal (as the Fifth Circuit, joining the Seventh Circuit, held below).

Click here to view the certiorari petition.  Click here to view Brief for Petitioner.  Click here to view Brief of Amici Curiae Eight Retired Judges in Support of Petitioner.  Click here to view Brief of Professor Fred Smith Jr. as Amicus Curiae in Support of Petitioner.  Click here to view Brief of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership and the National Police Accountability Project as Amici Curiae Supporting Petitioner.  Click here to view Brief of Accountability Center as Amicus Curiae in Support of Petitioner. Click here to view Brief of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc., in Support of Petitioner.  Click here to view Brief of Texas Exonerees Michael Morton and Anthony Graves, et al., in Support of Petitioner.  Click here to view Brief of Federal Courts Scholars as Amici Curiae in Support of Petitioner.  Click here to view Brief of National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, et al., Supporting Petitioner.  Click here to view Brief of Chase Baumgartner as Amicus Curiae in Support of Petitioner.  Click here to view Brief for Respondent.  Argument will be heard on October 11, 2022.

Cruz v. Arizona, 21-846 (cert. petition granted March 28, 2022)
(case below: 487 P.3d 991(Az.))

Question presented:

     Whether the Arizona Supreme Court’s holding that Arizona Rule of Criminal Procedure 32.1(g) precluded post-conviction relief is an adequate and independent state-law ground for the judgment.

Click here to view the certiorari petition.  The question presented in the grant of certiorari review was formulated by the Supreme Court.  Click here to view Brief for Petitioner.  Click here to view Brief for Amici Curiae Ohio Justice & Policy Cebter and Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center in Support of Petitioner.  Click here to view Brief of Amici Curiae Federal Courts Scholars in Support of Petitioner.  Click here to view Brief of Amici Curiae LatinoJustice PRLDEF and The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. in Support of Petitioner.  Click here to view Brief of the Arizona Capital Representation Project and Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice as Amici Curiae in Support of Petitioner.  Click here to view Brief of National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, et al., as Amici Curiae in Support of Petitoner.  Click here to view Brief of Respondent.  Click here to view Brief of Jonathan F. Mitchell and Adam K. Mortara as Amici Curiae in Support of Respondent.  Argument will be heard on November 1, 2022.