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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Monday, December 6, 2004

Supreme Court to Hear Two Criminal Cases Today

MillerelMiller-El v. Dretke
On Monday December 6, the Supreme Court will hear an appeal from a Texas death row inmate, Thomas Miller-El, claiming Texas prosecutors improperly struck minorities from his jury.  This is the second time in 2 years the Supreme Court will hear an appeal on Miller-El's behalf on this issue.  The last case resulted in an 8 to 1 decision instructing the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider the "substantial evidence" suggesting that prosecutors in Miller-El's case systematically excluded black jurors from his jury that convicted him in 1985 of killing a hotel clerk in Dallas.  Prosecutors used 10 out of 11 peremptory challenges to strike black jurors from the jury and they used a local procedure called "jury shuffle" to move blacks eligible for jury duty lower on the list of potential jurors for the case.  In response to the Supreme Court's instruction to reconsider this evidence, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Miller-El's claim in a decision "lifted" without attribution from Clarence Thomas' lone dissent in the 8 to 1 Supreme Court decision.  The issue presented the second time around:  Whether the Court of Appeals, in reinstating on remand from this Court its prior rejection of petitioner’s claim that the prosecution had purposefully excluded African-Americans from his capital jury in violation of Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986), so contravened this Court’s decision and analysis of the evidence in Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 E.S. 322 (2003), that an exercise of this Court’s supervisory powers under Supreme Court Rule 10(a) is required to sustain the protections against invidious discrimination set forth in Batson and Miller-El and the safeguards against arbitrary fact-finding set forth in 28 U.S.C. 2254(d)(2) and (e)(1)?  More...

Wilkinson v. Dotson, 03-0287

Questions presented:  (1) Whether a prisoner may bring a claim under 42 U.S.C. 1983 claiming that his parole proceedings violate due process, even though success on the merits of the claim would result only in a new parole hearing and would not necessarily guarantee earlier release from prison? (2) Does a federal court judgment ordering a new parole hearing "necessarily imply the invalidity of" the decision at the previous parole hearing?  More . . .    [Mark Godsey]

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