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4. Standard of review

Virginia v. Dennis LeBlanc, USSC No. 16-1177, 2017 WL 2507375 (June 12, 2017), reversing LeBlanc v. Mathena, 841 F.3d 256 (4th Cir. 2016); Scotusblog page (including links to briefs and commentary) Although this is a per curiam decision and it’s decided under the rubric of federal habeas review, the upshot of this opinion is that states… Read More

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Question presented: Did the Supreme Court’s decision in Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86 (2011), silently abrogate the presumption set forth in Ylst v. Nunnemaker, 501 U.S. 797 (1991)—that a federal court sitting in habeas proceedings should “look through” a summary state court ruling to review the last reasoned decision—as a slim majority of the… Read More

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Eric T. Alston v. Judy P. Smith, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals No. 16-1308, 2016 WL 6083982, 10/18/2016 Eric Alston was on probation when he came to the attention of Dane County’s “Special Investigation Unit,” a law enforcement initiative targeting “serious, assaultive offenders” that offered him resources aimed at preventing him from reoffending but “came with the admonition… Read More

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William Hinesley, III, v. Wendy Knight, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals No. 15-2122, 2016 WL 4758437, 9/13/16 Hinesley’s trial lawyer didn’t object to the state’s presentation of the inculpatory out-of-court statements of the two principal witnesses against him because he wanted all of the witnesses’ statements admitted to show how they had changed their stories and… Read More

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Roy L. Ward v. Ron Neal, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals No. 16-1001, 8/26/16 Ward’s trial lawyers weren’t ineffective when they failed to adequately investigate and present readily available mitigating evidence and then, due to lack of preparation, instead presented evidence Ward was a dangerous psychopath. Ward was facing the death penalty for a brutal sexual… Read More

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Walker Whatley v. Dushan Zatecky, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals No. 14-2534, 2016 WL 4269805, 8/15/16 The maximum penalty for Whatley’s drug possession conviction was dramatically increased—from 2-to-8 years to 20-to-50 years—under a now-repealed Indiana penalty enhancer for drug offenses committed within 1,000 feet of a “youth program center,” defined as a “building or structure that… Read More

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Kernan v. Hinojosa, USSC No. 15-833, 2016 WL 2842454 (May 16, 2016) (per curiam), reversing Hinjosa v. Davey, 803 F.3d 412 (9th Cir. 2015); Scotusblog page The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the California courts hadn’t made a determination of Hinojosa’s claim on the merits and therefore applied de novo review rather than AEDPA’s highly deferential standard… Read More

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Woods v.  Etherton, USSC No. 15-723 (April 4, 2016) (per curiam), reversing Etherton v. Rivard, 800 F.3d 737 (6th Cir. 2015); SCOTUSblog page (including links to petition, response and reply) This was a federal habeas action in which the petitioner claimed, among other things, that: (1) the state trial court’s admission of an anonymous tip… Read More

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