Friday, May 16, 2014

Hurles v. Ryan (9th Cir. - May 16, 2014)

I must say that the first things I noticed about this death penalty opinion were the dates.  The opinion came out today, May 16, 2014.  The case was argued in the Ninth Circuit on October 7th.  Of 2010.

What the heck took so long?!

Fortunately, Judge Ikuta's dissent anticipated my question.  Her very first footnote says:  "A reasonable person may wonder why the majority has reissued this opinion for the third time, almost four years after the case was submitted on October 7, 2010, particularly when doing so will vacate a prior version of the opinion which has been the subject of a cert petition pending before the Supreme Court for nearly a year."  She then goes on to describe all of the various twists and turns in this one.

What a saga.  One that, I might add, is far from over.  Because you've still got en banc proceedings and then the very real chance the Supreme Court takes an interest in this one.

Plus, even if things stay as they are now, on remand, there will have to be an evidentiary hearing.  Then a new appeal to the Ninth Circuit (regardless of who wins).  More en banc petitions.  Another petition for certiorari.  And so it goes.

This for someone who was convicted of murder and sentenced to death two decades ago.

Sometimes the wheels of justice grind even more slowly than usual.