U.S. Supreme Court
Supreme Court to Decide if Sullivan & Cromwell’s Mailroom Mix-Up Bars Capital Appeal
Posted Mar 21, 2011 2:44 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether a mailroom mix-up at Sullivan & Cromwell that resulted in a missed deadline bars the habeas appeal of a death row inmate.
At issue is whether Cory Maples can file a habeas appeal alleging ineffective assistance of counsel even though Sullivan & Cromwell failed to appeal an adverse ruling within the 42-day deadline.
The law firm’s error was set in motion after two associates representing Maples pro bono left Sullivan & Cromwell. An Alabama court sent the firm copies of a ruling denying post-conviction relief, but addressed the correspondence to the departed lawyers.
The mailroom returned the unopened mail to the court clerk along with a note, “Return to Sender—Left Firm.”