I know it is Friday and usually we here at www.TheTruthAboutForensicScience.com do not post, but with the United States Supreme Court in session, I thought it might be worth looking at this term’s cases that impact forensic science. Thanks to one of my favorite blogs the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) blog, we can all easily track cases that have been granted certiorari or in the pipeline for merits briefs with the SCOTUS.
According to Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) blog:
Harrington v. Richter
|09-587||Oct 12, 2010||TBD||TBD||TBD||OT 2010|
Issue: (1) Does a defense lawyer violate the Sixth Amendment right to the effective assistance of counsel when he does not investigate or present available forensic evidence supporting the theory of defense he uses during trial and instead relies on cross-examination and other methods designed to create reasonable doubt about the defendant’s guilt? (2) Does AEDPA deference apply to a state court’s summary disposition of a claim, including a claim under Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984)? [Note: the Court added question 2 when it granted the petition for certiorari.]
Plain English Issue: (1) Did the Ninth Circuit err in finding that a lawyer provided ineffective assistance to a criminal defendant by declining to investigate or introduce expert testimony regarding certain blood stains? (2) Is a state court decision upholding a criminal conviction entitled to deference when challenged in a federal habeas proceeding if the state court issued a summary decision with no reasoning? (Kagan, J., recused).
Briefs and Documents
- Brief for Petitioner Kelly Harrington
- Brief for Respondent Joshua Richter
- Reply Brief for Petitioner Kelly Harrington
- Brief for the States of Texas, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin in Support of Petitioner
- Brief for the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation in Support of Petitioner
- Brief for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Support of Respondent
- Brief for California Attorneys for Criminal Justice and the California Academy of Appellate Lawyers in Support of Respondent
- Brief for Law Professors and Legal Scholars in Support of Respondent
Skinner v. Switzer
|09-9000||Oct 13, 2010||TBD||TBD||TBD||OT 2010|
Issue: Whether a convicted prisoner seeking access to biological evidence for DNA testing may assert that claim in a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, or whether such a claim may be asserted only in a petition for writ of habeas corpus.
Plain English Issue: When a convicted prisoner wishes to sue a state to obtain access to biological evidence for DNA testing, is he required to file a habeas petition or can he file a civil rights suit instead?
Briefs and Documents
- Brief for Petitioner Henry W. Skinner
- Brief for Respondent Lynn Switzer, District Attorney for the 31st Judicial District of Texas
- Reply Brief for Petitioner Henry W. Skinner
- Brief for the National Crime Victim Law Institute in Support of Respondent
- Brief for the National District Attorney Association in Support of Respondent
- Brief for the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney, et al., in Support of Respondent
- Brief for the States of Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, Wyoming, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands in Support of Respondent
Bullcoming v. New Mexico
Issue: Whether the Confrontation Clause permits the prosecution to introduce testimonial statements of a nontestifying forensic analyst through the in-court testimony of a supervisor or other person who did not perform or observe the laboratory analysis described in the statements.
Plain English Issue: When the prosecution introduces a forensic evidence report, it ordinarily must bring the author of the report to the trial so the defendant can question him. Is it sufficient for the prosecution to bring the analyst’s supervisor, when the supervisor did not actually perform or witness the forensic tests?
Briefs and Documents
- Opinion below (Supreme Court of New Mexico)
- Petition for certiorari
- Brief in opposition (forthcoming)
- Petitioner’s reply
An interesting case that is set for today’s Long Conference is the following:
Title: DePierre v. United States
Issue(s): Whether the term “cocaine base” encompasses every form of cocaine that is classified chemically as a base, or whether the term “cocaine base” is limited to “crack” cocaine.