SCOTUS: Grants cert on lethal injection protocol

Question 1: Is it constitutionally permissible for a state to carry out an execution using a three-drug protocol where (a) there is a well-established scientific consensus that the first drug has no pain relieving properties and cannot reliably produce deep, comalike unconsciousness, and (b) it is undisputed that there is a substantial, constitutionally unacceptable risk of pain and suffering from the administration of the second and third drugs when a prisoner is conscious.

Question 2: Does the Baze-plurality stay standard apply when states are not using a protocol substantially similar to the one that this Court considered in Baze?

Question 3: Must a prisoner establish the availability of an alternative drug formula even if the state’s lethal-injection protocol, as properly administered, will violate the Eighth Amendment?

Glossip v. Gross, 2015 WL 127627 (10th Cir. Jan. 12, 2015) (cert granted 1/23/2015 case 14-7955)

Opinion Below:

SCOTUS: Substitution of Counsel for Missing Federal Habeas Filing Deadline

After counsel for a death row inmate missed the filing deadline for his federal habeas corpus petition, the prisoner requested substitution of counsel based on conflict of interest as his existing counsel could not reasonably be expected to argue that the prisoner was entitled to equitable tolling of the statute of limitations.  The Supreme Court held that these sort of conflicts permit substitution of counsel but the prisoner must still prove, through new counsel, that he is entitled to equitable tolling.

Christeson v. Roper, 14-6873 (Jan. 20, 2015)
Per curiam, with dissent from Alito and Thomas
For more cases regarding AEDPA and federal habeas corpus, visit

SCOTUS: 18 USC 2113(e) Bank Robbery Enhanced Penalty

Title 18, Section 2113(e), United States Code, establishes an enhanced penalty for anyone who “forces any person to accompany him without the consent of such person” in the course of committing or fleeing a bank robbery.  The Supreme Court UNANIMOUSLY held that a bank robber “forces [a] person to accompany him,” for purposes of § 2113(e), when he forces that person to go somewhere with him, even if the movement occurs entirely within a single building.

Whitfield v. USA, 574 U.S. _____ (Jan. 13, 2015)

(Justice Scalia wrote the opinion)