By Mark Sherman and Jessica Gresko | Associated Press
WASHINGTON — New Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson delivered her first Supreme Court ruling Monday, a brief dissent in support of a death-row inmate from Ohio.
Jackson wrote that in the case of Ohio inmate Davel Chinn, whose attorneys argued that the state had suppressed evidence that might have altered the outcome of his trial, she overturned lower court decisions.
The bipartite opinion came the same day the Supreme Court is hearing cases that are part of a broader dispute over federal government power.
In her dissent, Jackson wrote that she would reconsider Chinn’s case “because his life is at stake and given the substantial likelihood that the suppressed records would have altered the outcome of the trial.” The evidence in question indicated that a key witness against Chinn had an intellectual disability that may have affected his memory and ability to testify accurately, she wrote.
Prosecutors are required to turn over potentially exculpatory evidence to the defense. In that case, lower courts ruled that the outcome would not have been affected if the witness records had been made available to Chinn’s attorneys.
Chinn’s attorneys said in a statement after his case was dismissed, “Ohio must not compound past mistakes by proceeding with the execution of Mr. Chinn.”
The only other member of the court who shared Jackson’s opinion was Liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Jackson joined the High Court on June 30 after Judge Stephen Breyer retired.
The court has yet to rule on one of the cases heard in October or the first few days of this month. Jackson will almost certainly write a majority opinion in one of those cases. Each judge typically writes at least one opinion each time the court meets for a two-week session to hear arguments.
Also on Monday:
– The court heard arguments in two cases involving the Federal Trade Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission that are part of an ongoing assault by corporations and conservative interests on what they call state hyperbole. The two cases before the courts are about whether challengers can quickly go to federal court or first have to go through an agency process that can sometimes last for years.
In both cases, the Conservative-dominated 6-3 court seemed to opt for the shorter route, with Judge Samuel Alito at one point questioning a government lawyer on his argument for the lengthier process: “Isn’t it in your interest to decide that?” ?
Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, meanwhile, noting the string of Supreme Court decisions against the government in recent years, saying: “Doesn’t that underscore the need for … a direct process for establishing constitutional claims, rather than waiting so many years before the agency? “
– Judges declined to hear an Arizona case in which a man, Ramin Khorrami, challenged his conviction by an eight-person jury. Two conservative judges said the court should have heard Khorrami’s case. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote that the Supreme Court should have done so, overturning a 1970 Supreme Court precedent in which the justices said a 12-member jury was not required. Gorsuch wrote that six states allow smaller juries, a practice he says is “difficult to reconcile” with the Constitution. Judge Brett Kavanaugh agreed that the court should have heard the case. Khorrami was convicted after demanding money from a woman he was having an affair with and threatening to reveal the affair to her husband if she didn’t comply.
– Judges also declined to hear the case of a Louisiana man convicted of sex trafficking, arguing that there was serious misconduct by the prosecutor in his case. Jackson and Sotomayor were also allies in this case.
https://www.ocregister.com/2022/11/07/justice-jackson-issues-her-first-supreme-court-opinion/ Justice Jackson publishes her first Supreme Court ruling