Monday, October 03, 2005

Smylie & Ritchie: No decision & denied.

Smylie was not among the grants or denials on today's SCOTUS order list. And according to Doug Berman's estimate on Sentencing Law & Policy, there are 2000 or so denials on the order list.

So Smylie lives to fight another day. Let's suppose there are four votes to grant cert. Perhaps those four votes want to see where the new Chief Justice will weigh in. If the four can get a fifth, then they go ahead; if not, the four votes evaporate. It seems to me that if there were five votes for cert. or only three, they'd just have just granted or denied. Maybe not.

Cert. was denied in Ritchie v. State, one of the cases, along with Barker, in which the Indiana Supreme Court decided that Ring does not require that juries in death penalty cases "find" that aggravating circumstances outweigh mitigating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt. No case could have presented the question more clearly, so the cert. denial does mean something.

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