U.S. Supreme Court

Justice Jackson's second SCOTUS opinion is also a dissent to court's refusal in death-penalty case

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AP Supreme Court Opening Day 2022

In this sketch drawing by court artist Dana Verkouteren, the Supreme Court justices hear arguments on the opening day of its new term Oct. 3. Sketch by Dana Verkouteren via the Associated Press.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson has issued a second U.S. Supreme Court opinion that, like the first, disagrees with the court’s refusal to get involved in a death-penalty case.

Jackson issued her latest opinion Nov. 30, one day after the Supreme Court refused to interfere with the execution of Kevin Johnson, a Missouri inmate convicted for killing a police officer. Johnson was executed the night of Nov. 29, according to CNN.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined Jackson’s dissent from the Supreme Court’s refusal to issue a stay in the case.

Jackson said a prosecutor had filed a motion to vacate Johnson’s conviction using a process established by Missouri law, but the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the reviewing court didn’t have to have a hearing to present evidence supporting the motion.

“A state cannot provide a process for post-conviction review (like that outlined in [Missouri law]) and then arbitrarily refuse to follow the prescribed procedures,” Jackson wrote.

Jackson said the Missouri Supreme Court’s reading of the law “was so fundamentally flawed and so at odds with basic due process principles” that Johnson could likely show a 14th Amendment violation.

“It appears that much of the evidence that could have been presented at the nonexistent hearing was new evidence relating to the trial prosecutor’s racially biased practices and racially insensitive remarks. And now that evidence will not be considered on the merits by any court, much less the one that was supposed to base its conclusions about the validity of Johnson’s conviction on all such evidence, per the statutory mandate,” Jackson wrote.

Hat tip to Law.com and SCOTUSblog, which had coverage of Jackson’s opinion.

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