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High court won't review Michigan murder case

November 30, 2015

The Supreme Court of the United States said Monday that it won't consider reinstating the conviction of a Michigan man charged with a 1988 murder in a drug dispute.

The justices rejected Michigan's appeal of a federal court ruling that overturned the conviction of Junior Fred Blackston.

A federal District judge ruled in 2013 that Blackston was denied a fair trial in state court because he wasn't allowed to attack the credibility of two key witnesses who recanted their testimony between his first and second trials. The earlier testimony was read to jurors during the second trial.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that Blackston had a right to challenge the earlier testimony with written statements from the witnesses saying it was wrong.

Justice Antonin Scalia issued a written dissent, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, saying the high court should have taken up the case. Scalia said the constitutional right to cross-examine witnesses does not include a right to admit written statements recanting previous testimony.

Also Monday, justices rejected:

  •   An appeal from lawyers for former Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis and others seeking $360,000 in legal fees after challenging state redistricting plans;
  •   An appeal from three Mexican states seeking damages from BP and other companies over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill;
  •   An appeal from a retired Texas veterinarian who was barred from evaluating animals and giving advice over the Internet; and
  •   A challenge to Hawaii campaign finance laws that require a private company buying campaign ads to register as a political action committee.
     
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