Supreme Court Picks Criminal Defense Cases to Consider
The Supreme Court has indicated which criminal defense cases they will hear in their upcoming term, October/2021.
Supreme Court and the Granting of Certiorari
What is Certiorari?
Certiorari is when the Supreme Court determines that they will hear a case.
Usually the cases that the Supreme Court will hear are as follows:
- A United States court of appeals has entered a decision in conflict with the decision of another United States court of appeals on the same important matter; has decided an important federal question in a way that conflicts with a decision by a state court of last resort; or has so far departed from the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings, or sanctioned such a departure by a lower court, as to call for an exercise of this Court's supervisory power;
- A state court of last resort has decided an important federal question in a way that conflicts with the decision of another state court of last resort or of a United States court of appeals;
- A state court or a United States court of appeals has decided an important question of federal law that has not been, but should be, settled by this Court, or has decided an important federal question in a way that conflicts with relevant decisions of this Court.
A petition for a writ of certiorari is rarely granted when the asserted error consists of erroneous factual findings or the misapplication of a properly stated rule of law. Read more about the process on Direct Appeal.
Source: Supreme Court Rule 10
What Are Odds a Particular Case will be Granted Certiorari?
The odds are rather small:
The Term of the Court begins, by law, on the first Monday in October and lasts until the first Monday in October of the next year. Each Term, approximately 7,000-8,000 new cases are filed in the Supreme Court. This is a substantially larger volume of cases than was presented to the Court in the last century. In the 1950 Term, for example, the Court received only 1,195 new cases, and even as recently as the 1975 Term it received only 3,940. Plenary review, with oral arguments by attorneys, is currently granted in about 80 of those cases each Term, and the Court typically disposes of about 100 or more cases without plenary review. The publication of each Term’s written opinions, including concurring opinions, dissenting opinions, and orders, can take up thousands of pages. During the drafting process, some opinions may be revised a dozen or more times before they are announced.
Cases That Have Been Granted Certiorari
Below is a set of cases that were granted certiorari for the upcoming term. The case name, the case number and the question presented. The question presented is “what legal issue is at stake here?”
Conception vs. United States
From the First Circuit
Question Presented: Whether, when deciding if it should “impose a reduced sentence” on an individual under Section 404(b) of the First Step Act of 2018, 21 U.S.C. § 841 note, a district court must or may consider intervening legal and factual developments.
20-443 UNITED STATES V. TSARNAEV
DECISION BELOW: 968 F.3d 24
LOWER COURT CASE NUMBER: 16-6001
- Whether the court of appeals erred in concluding that respondent’s capital sentences must be vacated on the ground that the district court, during its 21-day voir dire, did not ask each prospective juror for a specific accounting of the pretrial media coverage that he or she had read, heard, or seen about respondent’s case.
- Whether the district court committed reversible error at the penalty phase of respondent’s trial by excluding evidence that respondent’s older brother was allegedly involved in different crimes two years before the offenses for which respondent was convicted.
CERT. GRANTED 3/22/2021
20-637 HEMPHILL V. NEW YORK
DECISION BELOW: 150 N.E.3d 356
LOWER COURT CASE NUMBER: 66 SSM 5 QUESTION PRESENTED:
A litigant’s argumentation or introduction of evidence at trial is often deemed to “open the door” to the admission of responsive evidence that would otherwise be barred by the rules of evidence.
The question presented is: Whether, or under what circumstances, a criminal defendant who opens the door to responsive evidence also forfeits his right to exclude evidence otherwise barred by the Confrontation Clause.
CERT. GRANTED 4/19/2021
20-1009 SHINN V. RAMIREZ
DECISION BELOW: 937 F.3d 1230
LOWER COURT CASE NUMBER: 10-99023 QUESTION PRESENTED:
The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e) (2), precludes a federal court from considering evidence outside the state-court record when reviewing the merits of a claim for habeas relief if a prisoner or his attorney has failed to diligently develop the claim's factual basis in state court, subject to only two statutory exceptions not applicable here. In the cases below, the Ninth Circuit concluded that AEDPA's bar on evidentiary development does not apply to a federal court's merits review of a claim when a court excuses that claim's procedural default under Martinez v. Ryan, 566 U.S. 1 (2012), because the default was caused by post- conviction counsel's negligence. The question presented, which drew an eight-judge dissent from the denial of en banc rehearing in each case, is:
Does application of the equitable rule this Court announced in Martinez v. Ryan render 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2) inapplicable to a federal court's merits review of a claim for habeas relief?
CERT. GRANTED 5/17/2021
20-1459 UNITED STATES V. TAYLOR
DECISION BELOW: 979 F.3d 203
LOWER COURT CASE NUMBER: 19-7616 QUESTION PRESENTED:
Whether 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(3)(A)'s definition of "crime of violence" excludes attempted Hobbs Act robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1951(a).
CERT. GRANTED 7/2/2021
20-5279 WOODEN V. UNITED STATES
DECISION BELOW: 945 F.3d 498
LOWER COURT CASE NUMBER: 19-5189 QUESTION PRESENTED:
- DID THE WARRANTLESS ENTRY AND SEARCH OF PETITIONER’S HOME VIOLATE HIS FOURTH AMENDMENT RIGHT TO BE FREE FROM ILLEGAL SEARCH AND SEIZURE?
- DID THE SIXTH CIRCUIT ERR BY EXPANDING THE SCOPE OF 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1) IN THE ABSENCE OF CLEAR STATUTORY DEFINITION WITH REGARD TO THE VAGUE TERM "COMMITTED ON OCCASIONS DIFFERENT FROM ONE ANOTHER”?
LIMITED TO QUESTION 2 PRESENTED BY THE PETITION.
CERT. GRANTED 2/22/202