In previous years, the Court released ... (click to view)
Editor's Note :
In previous years, the Court released orders the morning after the Court’s “Long Conference.” It has not done so this year. Beginning last Term, the Court consistently considered petitions at least two times before granting certiorari. To the extent that practice continues -- and there is no affirmative evidence the Court intends to drop it -- so we are again doubtful that certiorari will be granted in any cases today.
Issue: (1) In Strickland v. Washington, this Court held there exists a Sixth Amendment constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel at all stages of criminal trials, including the obligation to investigate before selecting a defense. In Cullen v. Pinholster, this Court reiterated Strickland controls for trial counsel’s obligation to investigate all phase of a capital case. Did the Ninth Circuit err in creating a new law of the Circuit that held, pursuant to the Ninth’s reading of Pinholster, trial counsel has no constitutional duty to conduct any investigation into police reports, ballistics, and crime scene photos before selecting a defense? (2)This Court has established a clear “law of the case doctrine.” In 2001 the Ninth Circuit held Phillips’s right to effective assistance of counsel, within the meaning of Strickland, had been violated because counsel conducted no investigation before selecting a defense. In its latest decision the Ninth Circuit found it was “compelled” to overturn the 2001 decision in light of this Court’s ruling in Pinholster that the Sixth Amendment does no impose a “constitutional duty to investigate” in capital cases. Was it a violation of Phillips’s constitutionally protected right to Due Process under the Fourteenth Amendment when the Ninth Circuit declined to follow this Court’s law of the case doctrine?