U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court Rules for Colorado Inmate Who Says State Waived Timeliness Defense

A Colorado inmate convicted in the slaying of a pizza shop assistant manager will get a chance to challenge his conviction in a habeas appeal.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision (PDF) today on behalf of inmate Patrick Wood. In a decision joined by six other justices, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the state of Colorado had deliberately waived its argument that Wood filed his habeas petition too late. As a result, a federal appeals court could not raise the issue on its own motion, she wrote.

Justice Clarence Thomas concurred in the judgment in a separate opinion joined by Justice Antonin Scalia. They said the appeals court should not be able to raise the statute of limitations defense sua sponte even if there is no deliberate waiver.

Wood argues that his convictions for felony murder and second-degree murder in the pizza shop slaying are two convictions for the same crime, violating the bar on double jeopardy, TheDenverChannel.com reported in February.

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