Recent Decisions

2022 Term Decisions of Interest to Capital Habeas Practitioners

Samia v. United States, 599 U.S. ___ (June 23, 2023)The Confrontation Clause was not violated by the admission of a nontestifying codefendant’s confession that did not directly inculpate the defendant and was subject to a proper limiting instruction.  The confession at issue was redacted to avoid naming Samia, satisfying Bruton’s rule and the replacement of Samia's name with "other person" was not akin to an obvious blank or the word “deleted” as was condemned in Gray.  

Jones v. Hendrix, 599 U.S. ___ (June 22, 2023) - 28 U.S.C.§2255(e) does not allow a prisoner asserting an intervening change in interpretation of a criminal statute to circumvent the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996’s (AEDPA) restrictions on second or successive §2255 motions by filing a 28 U.S.C. §2241 habeas petition.  There is no Suspension Clause (U. S. Const., Art. I, §9, cl. 2.) violation by not allowing the claim to be raised in a §2241 habeas petition because the claim at issue would not have been cognizable in habeas proceedings when the Constitution was drafted and ratified.  Although due process requires that the prosecution prove every element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt, due process does not guarantee the opportunity to have legal issues redetermined in successive collateral attacks. And the Eighth Amendment’s constraint on the kinds of punishments governments may inflict creates no independent entitlement to a second round of postconviction review.

Reed v. Goertz, 598 U.S. ___ (April 19, 2023) -  When a prisoner pursues state post-conviction DNA testing through the state-provided litigation process, the statute of limitations for a §1983 procedural due process claim begins to run when the state litigation ends, in this case when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied Reed’s motion for rehearing, not when the trial court initially denied the request for DNA testing.

Cruz v. Arizona, 598 U.S. ___ (Feb. 22, 2023) - Reversing denial of post-conviction relief to Arizona death row inmate and remanding for further proceedings on Cruz's claim that his Eighth Amendment rights were violated by the trial court's refusal to allow that the jury be informed that a life sentence in Arizona meant without parole.  The Arizona Supreme Court’s holding that Lynch v. Arizona, 578 U. S. 613 (2016) (per curiam) was not a significant change in the law, which resulted in a procedural bar to consideration of the claim, rested on such a novel and unforeseeable interpretation of a state court procedural rule that the decision is not adequate to foreclose review of the federal claim