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The Sixteenth Annual Supreme Court Review Conference

November 11, 2011

Professor Giovanna Shay

Western New England University School of Law

Big Issues in Criminal Justice: Wrongful Conviction, Over-Incarceration, and the Right to Counsel



A. Selected Criminal Opinions from the October 2010 Term

  1. Ashcroft v. Al-Kidd, 131S. Ct. 2074 (2011) (allegedly pretextual but objectively reasonable arrest on material-witness warrant was not unconstitutional and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft did not violate clearly established law in authorizing it).

  2. Brown v. Plata, 131 S. Ct. 1910 (2011) (affirming order of the three-judge panel directing California officials to reduce state prison population to within 137.5% of design capacity).

  3. Bullcoming v. New Mexico, 131 S. Ct. 2705 (2011) (introduction of certified forensic analysis through testimony of analyst who neither made the testimony nor performed the analysis violated the defendant’s rights under the confrontation clause).

  4. Connick v. Thompson, 131 S. Ct. 1350 (2011) (New Orleans District Attorney’s office was not liable for failure to train prosecutors regarding their obligation to turn over exculpatory evidence pursuant to Brady v. Maryland).

  5. Cullen v. Pinholster, 131 S. Ct. 1388 (2011) (a federal district court cannot grant a state prisoner habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1) of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) based on new evidence adduced at a federal habeas hearing).

  6. Davis v. United States, 131 S. Ct. 2419 (2011) (exclusionary rule does not apply when police act on the basis of objectively reasonable read of then-binding law).

  7. J.D.B. v. North Carolina, 131 S. Ct. 2394 (2011) (child’s age properly considered in determining whether the child was “in custody” for Miranda purposes, so long as the suspect’s minor status would have been objectively apparent to a reasonable officer).

  8. Kentucky v. King, 131 S. Ct. 1849(2011) (warrantless entry pursuant to exigent circumstances exception applies when police conduct created the exigency, so long as police conduct did not violate or threaten to violate the Fourth Amendment).

  9. Michigan v. Bryant, 131 S. Ct. 1143 (2011) (statements by gunshot victim to police regarding the identity of the shooter were not testimonial hearsay within the meaning of Crawford v. Washington, because the “primary purpose of the interrogation” was to help police meet an “ongoing emergency”).

  10. Pepper v. United States, 131 S. Ct. 1229 (2011) (at resentencing district court judge possesses discretion to consider rehabilitation since defendant’s initial sentencing in departing downward from advisory guidelines).

  11. Skinner v. Switzer, 131 S. Ct. 1289 (2011) (state prisoner can pursue DNA testing of evidence in civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983).

B. Selected Criminal Cases from the October 2011 Term

  1. Gonzalez v. Thaler (argued Nov. 2, 2011) (whether requirement that certificate of appealability indicate federal constitutional issue for state prisoner appealing federal habeas denial is jurisdictional; whether one-year time AEDPA time limit for state prisoners to file federal habeas petitions runs from issuance of state-court mandate affirming conviction or from expiration of time for seeking discretionary review in highest state court).

  2. Greene v. Fisher (decided Nov. 8, 2011) (in determining whether a state court decision is "contrary to or an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law" under AEDPA, federal habeas courts should consider only Supreme Court decisions as of the date of the state court decision, not those issued during the period between the state court decision and the issuance of the mandate, when the conviction becomes final).

  3. Lafler v. Cooper (argued Oct. 31, 2011) (whether a defendant may receive federal habeas relief when he has plead guilty based on deficient advice from his attorney), linked with Missouri v. Frye (also argued Oct. 31, 2011) (can a defendant claim ineffective assistance of counsel when he has plead guilty after his attorney failed to communicate a more favorable plea offer).

  4. Maples v. Thomas (argued Oct. 4, 2011) (whether there was “cause” to excuse a procedural default when death row inmate’s counsel had missed important state court filing deadline because they had left law firm and notice was returned to the Alabama clerk’s office).

  5. Martinez v. Arizona (argued Oct. 4, 2011) (whether state prisoner possesses a federal constitutional right to counsel in state postconviction when his first opportunity to raise a claim is in state postconviction).


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