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Thornell v. Jones:  Federal courts cannot ignore weighty aggravating evidence in applying Strickland prejudice standard

By Greg Mermelstein, Deputy Director & General Counsel, Missouri Public Defender            The Ninth Circuit improperly ignored the weight of aggravating evidence in finding that a death-sentenced defendant was prejudiced under Strickland’s standard for ineffective assistance of counsel, the U.S. […]

Pulsifer v. U.S.:  Supreme Court limits criminal-history “safety valve” relief under First Step Act

By Greg Mermelstein, Deputy Director & General Counsel, Missouri Public Defender            A defendant seeking “safety valve” relief under the First Step Act for criminal history must not fall into any of the three listed ineligible categories, the U.S. Supreme […]

McElrath v. Georgia:  Double Jeopardy bars retrial after acquittal even if verdict is inconsistent with other verdicts

By Greg Mermelstein, Deputy Director & General Counsel, Missouri Public Defender Double jeopardy bars retrial after a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity even if that verdict is inconsistent with other verdicts in the case, the U.S. Supreme […]

Wilkinson v. Garland:  Family hardship exception to cancellation of removal is reviewable by Court of Appeals

By Greg Mermelstein, Deputy Director & General Counsel, Missouri Public Defender            The family “hardship exception” to cancellation of removal of noncitizens is a mixed question of fact and law which is reviewable by the Court of Appeals, the U.S. […]

Another Supreme Court Decision Stopping Innocent People from Getting Their Day in Court w/Alison Guernsey and Meredith Esser

An unfortunate theme of the show is the reality that the Supreme Court is more than happy to close the doors of the courthouse to those who are factually or legally innocent. Preferring to uphold and support the concept of […]

Santos-Zacaria v. Garland: Noncitizens need not file motion to reconsider with Board of Immigration Appeals

Even though 8 U.S.C. Sec. 1252 states that a noncitizen who seeks to challenge an order of removal in court must first exhaust certain administrative remedies, this requirement is not jurisdictional, and a noncitizen need not request discretionary forms of […]

Cruz v. Arizona: Arizona rule was not “adequate” state grounds to bar federal review of capital defendant’s claim he wasn’t allowed to tell jury he wouldn’t be paroled

An Arizona postconviction rule was not an “adequate” state ground to bar federal review and relief on a claim by a capital defendant that he wasn’t allowed to inform his jury that he would not be eligible for release, the […]

Biden v. Texas: Termination of return-to-Mexico policy did not violate INA; lower courts cannot enter injunctions in certain INA matters, but retain subject matter jurisdiction

The Biden Administration’s repeal of the policy which returned noncitizens who entered the country illegally from Mexico back to Mexico pending removal proceedings did not violate the Immigration and Nationality Act, the U.S. Supreme Court held June 30 in Biden […]

New York State Rifle Assn. v. Bruen: Requiring “special need” to obtain gun license to carry gun outside home violates Second Amendment

Requiring gun license applicants to demonstrate a “special need” to obtain a license to carry a gun outside the home violates the Second Amendment, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 23 in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen.   […]

Ruan v. U.S.: Doctors must know prescriptions are unauthorized to violate Sec. 841 of Controlled Substances Act

The Government must prove that a doctor knowingly and intentionally prescribed drugs in an unauthorized manner in order to convict under the Controlled Substances Act, the U.S. Supreme Court held June 27 in Ruan v. United States.   Section 841 […]