The Supreme Court of the United States announced decisions in two cases this morning: Parker v. Matthews
, No. 11-845: In a habeas case, the Sixth Circuit set aside two 29-year old murder convictions. The defendant, David Matthews, was convicted by a jury in Kentucky on all charges and sentenced to death. The Kentucky Supreme Court affirmed the convictions and sentence. Matthews’ state postconviction proceedings were unsuccessful and he sought habeas relief in federal court. The District Court dismissed the petition, but the Sixth Circuit reversed, based on what the Court today deemed, in a per curiam opinion, to be a “textbook example of what the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) proscribes: ‘using federal habeas corpus review as a vehicle to second-guess the reasonable decisions of state courts.’” In particular, the Court held that the Kentucky Supreme Court made no objectively unreasonable error in concluding that the question of extreme emotional disturbance was properly committed to the jury for resolution, and that with respect to the allegation of prosecutorial misconduct, it was plain and repetitive error for the Sixth Circuit to rely on its own precedents in granting Matthews habeas relief.
The Court’s decision is available here
. Elgin v. Department of Treasury
, No. 11-45: Petitioners were federal employees discharged under a statute barring anyone from Executive agency employment who knowingly and willfully failed to register for the Selective Service. The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (CRSA) provides qualifying employees with the right to a hearing before the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) to review personnel action taken against them. An employee dissatisfied with the MSPB’s decision is entitled to judicial review in the Federal Circuit. Petitioner Elgin challenged his removal before the MSPB raising constitutional arguments. The MSPB referred the case to an administrative law judge who dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, determining that an employee is not entitled to MSPB review of agency action based on an absolute statutory bar to employment and that the MSPB lacked authority to determine the constitutionality of a federal statute. Rather than seeking review to the MSPB or appealing to the Federal Circuit, Elgin joined other petitioners raising the same constitutional challenges in a suit in Federal District Court. The District Court found it had jurisdiction and denied petitioners’ claims on the merits. On appeal, the First Circuit vacated and remanded with instructions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. Today, the Supreme Court affirmed the First Circuit, holding that the CSRA precludes district court jurisdiction over petitioners’ claims because it is fairly discernible that Congress intended the statute’s review scheme to provide the exclusive avenue to judicial review for covered employees who challenge covered adverse employment actions, even when those employees argue that a federal statute is unconstitutional.
The Court’s decision is available here
The Court granted review in two cases today: Evans, Lamar v. Michigan
, No. 11-1327: Does the Double Jeopardy Clause bar retrial after the trial judge erroneously holds a particular fact to be an element of the offense and then grants a midtrial directed verdict of acquittal because the prosecution failed to prove that fact? Amgen Inc., et al. v. Connecticut Retirement Plans
, No. 11-1085: (1) Whether, in a misrepresentation case under SEC Rule 10b-5, the district court must require proof of materiality before certifying a plaintiff class based on the fraud-on-the-market theory. (2) Whether, in such a case, the district court must allow the defendant to present evidence rebutting the applicability of the fraud-on-the-market theory before certifying a plaintiff class based on that theory.