Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cash v. Maxwell, 132 U.S. 611 (2012)

For the last decade the 9th Circuit has systematically stymied state supreme court death penalty cases by invoking federal habeas corpus.  The Supreme Court has just as repeatedly reversed the 9th Circuit in harsh and censorious language.  In some cases the Court has alleged the 9th Circuit wilfully misread the record; in others, ignored Supreme Court precedents; in others, invoked the wrong legal test.

But not until Cash v. Maxwell has the Court, in the person of Justice Scalia, identified this disreputable record.  After citing the extensive record of 9th Circuit reversals, he decries the 9th Circuit  repeated evasion of AEDPA, ". . .uquestionably [ignoring] these [statutory] commands . . . and invalidated a 26 year old murder conviction  likely making it impossible to retry. . . To make matters worse, having stretched the facts [in Maxwell], the Ninth Circuit also stretched the Constitution . . . It is a regrettable reality that some federal judges like to second guess state courts . . .  The only way this Court can ensure observance of Congress's abridgement of their habeas power is to perform the unaccustomed task of reviewing utterly fact-bound decisions that present no disputed issues of law. We have often not shrunk from that task, which we have found particularly needful with regard to decisions of the Ninth Circuit."
N,B. This criticism also applies to Gonzalez v. Wong, reported above.

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