Sixth Circuit Now 0-4 in Habeas Cases This Term

This morning the Supreme Court released its opinion in Renico v. Lett.  By a vote of 6-3, the Court overturned a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit granting habeas relief to Reginald Lett, who had been convicted of murder in Michigan. Chief Justice Roberts’ majority opinion begins with the following summary:

This case requires us to review the grant of a writ of habeas corpus to a state prisoner under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), 28 U. S. C. §2254(d). The District Court in this case issued the writ to respondent Reginald Lett on the ground that his Michigan murder conviction violated the Double Jeop-ardy Clause of the Constitution, and the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed. In doing so, how-ever, these courts misapplied AEDPA’s deferential standard of review. Because we conclude that the Michigan Supreme Court’s application of federal law was not unreasonable, we reverse.

Justice Stevens dissented, joined by Justice Sotomayor in full and Justice Breyer in part.

Of note, this is the fourth  reversal of a Sixth Circuit decision granting a prisoner’s habeas petition this term.  The other three were Berghuis v. Smith, Smith v. Spisak and Bobby v. Van Hook.  One more Sixth Circuit habeas case remains, Berghuis v. Thompkins.  Will the Supreme Court reverse in all five?  We’ll see.

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