Supreme Court declines to rule on Guantanamo detainee cases

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Monday granted certiorari [order list, PDF] in two cases from the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit [official website] but denied review of three Guantanamo cases [JURIST news archive]. In Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Burlington [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the court will examine whether a suspect's Fourth Amendment [text] rights were violated when he was strip searched twice after being arrested for a non-criminal offense and the circumstances did not suggest that he was carrying contraband. Petitioner Albert Florence sued under 42 USC § 1983 [text], obtaining summary judgment from the district court, which rejected a categorical rule that all arrestees be strip searched regardless of the alleged crime. The judgment was overturned [opinion, PDF] by the Third Circuit. Florence was arrested in New Jersey after being pulled over when it was discovered that there was an outstanding warrant against him for failure to pay a fine. He produced a letter to the officer that he had paid the fine, but officer made the arrest anyways. Florence was eventually transported to a local jail where he was forced to strip naked for inspection. Florence was then held at the jail for a week while his family tried to secure his release before being transported to another corrections facility where he was again subjected to a strip search. The alleged failure to pay the fine is considered a non-criminal offense in New Jersey.

In Greene v. Fisher [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the Supreme Court is being asked to determine what the temporal cutoff is for one of its decisions to become "clearly established Federal Law" under 28 USC § 2254(d) [text], as amended by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. Petitioner Eric Greene was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for involvement in a robbery of a convenience store in which the store's owner was shot and killed. At the trial, Greene had objected to the admission of confessions of his conspirators and co-defendants on Confrontation Clause [Sixth Amendment text] grounds. The court allowed the confessions with Greene's name redacted. He renewed this objection on appeal, arguing on the grounds of the Supreme Court's decision in Gray v. Maryland. Gray was decided before Greene's conviction became final but after the state court's last decision on the merits. Greene argues that whether the Gray case should apply will be outcome determinative of his appeal. The Third Circuit held [opinion, PDF] that an opinion issued after a decision on the merits in state court is not "clearly established Federal Law," acknowledging that its decision created a circuit split.

The court also denied certiorari in three Guantanamo detainee cases, allowing the decisions of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] to stand. The court did not act in a case involving the Uighurs [JURIST news archives], a group of Chinese Muslims captured in Afghanistan. The Uighurs claim they were wrongfully captured and have attempted to challenge their indefinite detention. Some are still being held at Guantanamo since being captured in 2001. Of the 22 Uighurs originally detained at Guantanamo Bay, 17 have been relocated.

 

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