No New SCOTUS Cases

Today is a virtual Monday at the U.S. Supreme Court, after the Columbus Day federal holiday. The Court released an orders list from last week’s conference, but it did not take up any new cases for full briefing and argument. Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, and Jackson dissented from denial of certiorari in Thomas v. Lumpkin, No. 21-444, a capital case with a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel in jury selection.

There are no criminal cases on this month’s docket, but today the Court hears argument in the crime-related civil case of Reed v. Goertz, No. 21-442, regarding DNA testing.

The Question Presented (as drafted by Reed’s lawyers) is:

In Skinner v. Switzer, 562 U.S. 521, 524-25 (2011), this Court held that state prisoners may pursue post-conviction claims for DNA testing of crime-scene evidence in a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C.§ 1983. The Court made clear that a prisoner bringing such a § 1983 claim may seek “to show that the governing state law denies him procedural due process” after he has unsuccessfully sought DNA testing under available state procedures. Id. at 525, 530.

The question presented is whether the statute of limitations for a § 1983 claim seeking DNA testing of crime-scene evidence begins to run at the end of state-court litigation denying DNA testing, including any appeals (as the Eleventh Circuit has held), or whether it begins to run at the moment the state trial court denies DNA testing, despite any subsequent appeal (as the Fifth Circuit, joining the Seventh Circuit, held below).

The October argument session concludes tomorrow with two civil cases. The Court holds another conference on Friday and will release an orders list the following Monday. We will see if any new cases of interest are taken up then. The next argument session begins on Halloween.

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