Friday, July 2, 2010
Doug Berman's recap is at Sentencing Law and Policy. In part:
the Term had a significant number of little wins for criminal defendants, but the vast majority of cases that could have potentially produced huge wins for defendants ended up being losses (or dismissed cases) or wins via relatively narrow opinions. My view here may be skewed a bit by end-of-term cases like Barber and Comstock and Dillon and Dolan and HLP which were defendant losses that would have been huge if they came out the other way, and also by rulings like Carr and O'Brien and Skilling which were defense wins on possibly the most narrow of the reasonably available grounds.
That said, it is probably accurate to describe the two potentially biggest and most consequential cases, Graham concerning Eighth Amendment restrictions on extreme prison terms and Padilla concerning Sixth Amendment standards for assessing the effectiveness of an defense attorney's pre-plea advice, as big wins for criminal defendants.