Monday, March 7, 2011

US Supreme Court Issues Opinions on AEDPA and DNA Requests

This morning the Supreme Court issued opinion on two criminal justice procedure issues of note.  Here are the details and links to the opinons via SCOTUSblog:

Wall v. Kholi (09-868) -- In a unanimous opinion by Justice Alito, The Court affirmed the decision of the First Circuit.  The case concerns the time limits for filing a federal petition for habeas corpus under AEDPA, which generally allows inmates one year to file a petition, but tolls the time limit while the inmate’s case is on “collateral review” in the state courts.  The Court held that the phrase “collateral review” in AEDPA means judicial review of a judgment in a proceeding that is not part of direct review.  Accordingly, state proceedings on an inmate’s motion to reduce his sentence did not toll the time to file his federal habeas petition.

Justice Scalia concurred in part.

Skinner v. Switzer (09-9000) -- In a 6-3 opinion by Justice Ginsburg, the Court reversed the decision of the Fifth Circuit.   Skinner filed a civil rights suit under Section 1983, seeking access to DNA evidence to challenge his state conviction.  The Court held that federal courts have subject matter jurisdiction over such claims, which are properly cognizable under Section 1983.

Justice Thomas filed a dissent joined by Justice Kennedy and Justice Alito.