Sixth Circuit 0-3 in Habeas Cases This Term

This morning, the Supreme Court unanimously reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Berghuis v. Smith.  The Court held, in an opinion by Justice Ginsburg, that the Sixth Circuit had erroneously concluded that the Michigan Supreme Court’s rejection of criminal defendant Diapolis Smith’s Sixth Amendment claim involved an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law, as is required to grant a habeas petition under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA).  Smith had argued that jury selection in his trial had violated his Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury drawn from a representative cross-section of the community.

Of note, this is the third reversal of a Sixth Circuit decision granting a crminal defendant’s habeas petition this term.  The first two were Smith v. Spisak and Bobby v. Van Hook.  Two more Sixth Circuit habeas cases remain, Renico v. Lett and Berghuis v. Thompkins.  As I noted here, in all five cases, the Sixth Circuit granted the habeas petition.  Will the Supreme Court reverse in all five?  We’ll see.  Three down, two to go.