Author: Kent Scheidegger

The New York Mayoral Primary

Earlier this week, after much grinding through the complex ranked-choice voting system, AP called the Democratic primary for Mayor of New York for Eric Adams. Today the WSJ has this editorial. “Perhaps the city that these days never sleeps safely has a chance to reverse its eight-year downward spiral under mayor Bill de Blasio.”

Perhaps, but that is a very tall order. Continue reading . . .

Ineffective Assistance, Strategic Decisions, and Making a Record

The U.S. Supreme Court wrapped up its October 2020 Term with a summary reversal of a federal court of appeals decision for — you guessed it — giving the state court insufficient credit as required by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act’s so-called “deference” provision, 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). This time it was the Eleventh Circuit, further undermining my old “circuits divisible by three” rule.

The twist in Dunn v. Reeves, No. 20-1084 is that the Eleventh had based its holding on Justice Sotomayor’s dissent from denial of certiorari earlier in the same case. The unsigned opinion of the Court rebukes the Eleventh for its failure to properly observe § 2254(d), noting that the case is in a different posture on habeas corpus than on the Supreme Court’s direct review of a state court decision. Despite that difference, Justice Sotomayor is livid, with a dissent as long as the opinion of the Court. Continue reading . . .

Detention of Illegally Re-Entering Aliens

The U.S. Supreme Court issued three decisions today as it wraps up its October 2020 term. The one marginally crime-related case is Johnson v. Guzman Chavez, No. 19-987. The case involves the detention pending deportation of aliens previously deported who illegally re-enter the United States. Such re-entry is a crime, a more serious one than first-time illegal entry. The holding is that such aliens are subject to the more stringent of two statutes on detention pending deportation, rather than the more lenient one with more leeway for release on bond or conditional parole. Continue reading . . .

Supreme Court Sends Excessive Force Case Back to USCA8

The U.S. Supreme Court issued two summary decisions today. In Lombardo v. St. Louis, No. 20-391, the Court sent a case back to the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, a procedure known as “grant, vacate, and remand” or GVR. The case involves the death in custody of likely suicidal prisoner who was very actively resisting officers’ attempts to subdue him. Ironically, they caused the very result he tried to inflict on himself–death by asphyxiation.

Quoting a 2015 precedent, the unsigned opinion for the majority says that deciding claims such as these “requires careful attention to the facts and circumstances of each particular case.” See the problem here? Continue reading . . .

Hot Pursuit and Entry Into Homes: Preliminary Note

As expected, the U.S. Supreme Court held today that the fact that a police officer is in “hot pursuit” of a person believed to have committed a misdemeanor (as opposed to a felony) is not by itself sufficient justification to enter a home with neither consent nor a warrant. The case is Lange v. California, No. 20-18. There are some interesting nuances here, which I will have more to say about later.

No SCOTUS Criminal Cases Today

As the U.S. Supreme Court winds down its October 2020 Term, it decided three civil cases today. They involve securities litigation class actions, antitrust and student athletes, and the Appointments Clause and patent reviews.

No new cases, civil or criminal, were taken up for full review in the next term. Continue reading . . .