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SCOTUS asked to hear stun-belt case

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Indiana Lawyer Rehearing

When the Supreme Court of the United States returns for its new term beginning in October, Indiana will likely learn whether the high court will hear a case relating to a stun-belt restraint used here during a convicted murder’s trial.

The Indiana attorney general’s office filed a response in mid-June to the certiorari petition filed earlier this year on behalf of John Stephenson, convicted in 1997 for three murders and sentenced to death.

U.S. Judge Theresa Springmann in the Northern District of Indiana found in his favor on a habeas corpus petition and reversed the death sentence, but she didn’t consider all of his arguments on the merits. Last year, the 7th Circuit ordered her to reconsider that ruling because of potential prejudice resulting from his wearing the stun-belt at the sentencing phase. The full appellate court declined to revisit the case en banc and Stephenson could get a new trial based on that penalty-specific issue.

Urging the justices to deny certiorari, the AG’s 11-page brief says SCOTUS review is premature because the lower federal courts haven’t fully analyzed the stun-belt restraint claim involving ineffective assistance of counsel. The AG also objects to Stephenson’s suggestion that the justices retroactively apply recent precedent to his case in a way that is essentially creating a new criminal procedure rule. The 7th Circuit applied existing caselaw from 1984 when determining there was no reasonable probability that Stephenson would have been acquitted if his trial counsel objected to the stun belt or appeared before the jury unrestrained, according to the brief.

The SCOTUS has set this case for consideration at its late September conference following the summer recess.•
 

Rehearing "Court won't rehear stun-belt case" IL Feb. 2-15, 2011

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  1. I'm not sure what's more depressing: the fact that people would pay $35,000 per year to attend an unaccredited law school, or the fact that the same people "are hanging in there and willing to follow the dean’s lead in going forward" after the same school fails to gain accreditation, rendering their $70,000 and counting education worthless. Maybe it's a good thing these people can't sit for the bar.

  2. Such is not uncommon on law school startups. Students and faculty should tap Bruce Green, city attorney of Lufkin, Texas. He led a group of studnets and faculty and sued the ABA as a law student. He knows the ropes, has advised other law school startups. Very astute and principled attorney of unpopular clients, at least in his past, before Lufkin tapped him to run their show.

  3. Not that having the appellate records on Odyssey won't be welcome or useful, but I would rather they first bring in the stray counties that aren't yet connected on the trial court level.

  4. Aristotle said 350 bc: "The most hated sort, and with the greatest reason, is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself, and not from the natural object of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange, but not to increase at interest. And this term interest, which means the birth of money from money, is applied to the breeding of money because the offspring resembles the parent. Wherefore of an modes of getting wealth this is the most unnatural.

  5. Oh yes, lifetime tenure. The Founders gave that to the federal judges .... at that time no federal district courts existed .... so we are talking the Supreme Court justices only in context ....so that they could rule against traditional marriage and for the other pet projects of the sixties generation. Right. Hmmmm, but I must admit, there is something from that time frame that seems to recommend itself in this context ..... on yes, from a document the Founders penned in 1776: " He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good."

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