Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a dissent, in which Justice Stephen G. Breyer joined in part, from the denial of certiorari in Woodward v. Alabama, No. 13-5380. In news coverage, Mark Sherman of The Associated Press reports that "Justice Sotomayor faults Ala. death sentences." And Lawrence Hurley of Reuters reports that "Supreme Court declines to hear Alabama death penalty case."Tom Goldstein explains what all of this means at SCOTUSblog: "What you can learn from opinions regarding the denial of certiorari."
Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. issued a statement respecting the denial of the petition for writ of certiorari in Martin v. Blessing, No. 13-169. In news coverage, Lawrence Hurley of Reuters reports that "U.S. justice airs concerns about using race in picking lawyers."
And Justice Alito also issued a dissent, in which Justice Antonin Scalia joined, from the denial of certiorari in Rapelje v. McClellan, No. 12-1480.
Today’s order list from the Court included three opinions respecting the denial of certiorari – i.e., denials of review in which the Justices felt strongly enough about the issue that they went to the effort of writing separately. Almost always, when a Justice votes to review a case but there are not enough votes to grant certiorari (four are required), the dissent is not publicly noted. So the parties and lawyers – and litigants in later similar cases – have almost no way of knowing whether the issue generated any interest at the Court.Meantime, trial started for Frank Excel Marley III, a lawyer accused of stealing more than $1 million from the Seminole Tribe. Paula McMahon has the details:
Two of the opinions today were traditional dissents from the denial of certiorari. In a habeas corpus case, Rapelje v. McClennan, Justice Alito wrote an opinion (joined by Justice Scalia) arguing that the Court should review the decision by a court of appeals on how to review a summary order of a state court. In a death penalty case, Woodward v. Alabama, Justice Sotomayor wrote an opinion (joined by Justice Breyer) arguing that the Court should review Alabama’s practice of permitting judges to override juries’ death penalty recommendations. The two cases illustrate that frequently Justices Scalia and Alito will view the federal habeas laws as imposing the most significant constraints on overturning convictions, while Justices Breyer and Sotomayor will have the most interest in considering issues related to the administration of the death penalty.
The more interesting opinion to me as a matter of Supreme Court practice is Justice Alito’s opinion respecting the denial of certiorari in Martin v. Blessing. In an opinion of this kind, a Justice agrees that certiorari should be denied but emphasizes that the denial of review does not endorse the lower court’s ruling. Sometimes the opinion notes a procedural flaw in the case that prevents Supreme Court review. But sometimes there is a further subtext: the opinion is a warning shot that some anomalous practices should be stopped without the Court ever having to get involved. ...
Marley's former legal assistant, Maria Hassun, 66, of Coral Gables, pleaded guilty to her role earlier this year and agreed to testify against her boss.
She is scheduled to begin serving a year and a day in federal prison on Dec. 13 but prosecutors said they will recommend a sentence reduction for her if she testifies truthfully against Marley. She must also repay $148,658 to the tribe.
Marley's attorney, Bruce Zimet, told jurors Monday that his client is part African-American and part Native American and is still owed a lot of money for unpaid work he did for the tribe. Marley "made millions and millions of dollars" for the tribe and protected them from losing millions.
Marley "became a pawn in a war of power" between factions in the tribe, Zimet said.
And Hassun is a liar who gained Marley's trust, then defrauded him, Zimet said. Hassun told prosecutors that she acted on Marley's instructions when she inflated invoices that were submitted to the tribe.
The prosecution says Marley committed fraud by padding his legal bills and charged for services, travel, phone calls and meetings "that did not occur."