Don’t look now, but another precedent just toppled.
It’s not an actual precedent, but it will likely free up some time for federal judges who had been subjected to endless attempts to relitigate death penalty cases on the flimsiest of pretexts.
The Supreme Court issued two opinions Monday morning and although neither of them are on abortion rights, the Arizona-based Shinn v. Ramirez has some broad ramifications.
Shinn v. Martinez – which was argued Dec. 8, 2021 – May 23, 2022 – concluded in a 6-3 ruling that federal courts can’t consider evidence that was not introduced at a state level for ineffective-counsel claims.
That means that if a prisoner is trying to argue that the legal counsel they received wasn’t helpful, or failed to represent them, they have to present their evidence before the case reaches federal court.
Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the majority opinion stating, We have no power to redefine when a prisoner ‘has failed to develop the factual basis of a claim in State court proceedings.’
Justice Thomas also provided a detailed recounting of the crimes committed by Martinez Ramirez and Barry Lee Jones.
On May 25, 1989, David Martinez Ramirez stabbed his girlfriend and her 15-year-old daughter to death in their home. A police investigation found that he had sexually assaulted the teenager, to which Ramirez later confessed.
Likewise, Barry Lee Jones was convicted of beating his girlfriend’s 4-year-old daughter to death on May 1, 1994. Evidence showed injuries also caused by sexual assault.
Both men, Arizona residents, were sentenced to death.
It’s a conservative decision that respects state authority and it also limits the constant practice of dragging out death penalty cases with endless appeals.
Ineffective counsel is a common theme and the appeals are based on yet another invented right read into the Sixth Amendment.
The Sixth Amendment provides a right to have the Assistance of Counsel. Liberal justices reinterpreted it to mean that it was the obligation of the government to provide defense lawyers and then, in a truly baffling argument, that ineffective counsel was a violation of that Sixth Amendment right.
That’s like arguing that losing your gun is a violation of the Second Amendment.
Thomas isn’t directly going after as big a game as that, but he’s developing a more conservative position on deferrence. The pro-crime lefties are once again unhappy.