WASHINGTON (AP) — Incoming Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson delivered her first Supreme Court opinion on Monday, a brief dissent in favor of an Ohio death row inmate.
Jackson wrote that she would have overturned lower court rulings in the case of Ohio inmate Davel Chinn, whose attorneys argued the state suppressed evidence that could have changed the outcome of his trial.
The two-page opinion was published the same day the High Court was hearing cases that are part of a wider dispute over the power of the federal government.
In her dissent, Jackson wrote that she would have ordered a new look at Chinn’s case “because her life is at stake and given the strong likelihood that the deleted records would have changed the outcome of the trial.” The evidence at issue 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, the lower courts determined that the outcome would not have been affected had the witness records been provided to Chinn’s attorneys.
Chinn’s attorneys said in a statement after his case was dismissed that, “Ohio must not exacerbate past mistakes by pursuing Mr. Chinn’s execution.
The only other member of the court to join Jackson’s opinion was liberal Judge Sonia Sotomayor.
Jackson joined the High Court on June 30, following the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer.
The court has not yet ruled on any of the cases heard in October or in the first days of this month. Jackson will almost certainly write a majority opinion in one of these cases. Each judge typically writes at least one opinion each time the court sits for a two-week session to hear arguments.
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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 a backed attack by business and conservative interests on what they say is government overreach. The two cases before the court have to do with whether the challengers can get into federal court quickly or have to go through a sometimes lengthy agency process first.
In either case, it looked like the 6-3 Tory-dominated court would opt for the shorter route, with Judge Samuel Alito at one point questioning a government lawyer on his case for a longer process: “Isn’t it in your interest to have this decided?” »
Meanwhile, his Conservative colleague, Chief Justice John Roberts, noted the series of Supreme Court decisions against the government in recent years, saying: “Does this not underline the need for … a direct procedure to raise the constitutional claim rather than waiting many years before the agency?”
Judges refused to hear a case in Arizona in which a man, Ramin Khorrami, challenged his conviction by an eight-member jury. Two conservative judges said the court should have heard Khorrami’s case. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote that the High Court should have done so and overturned a 1970 Supreme Court precedent in which justices said a 12-member jury was not necessary. Gorsuch wrote that six states allow smaller juries, a practice he said is “difficult to reconcile” with the Constitution. Judge Brett Kavanaugh agreed the court should have heard the case. Khorrami was convicted after demanding money from a woman he had an affair with, threatening to reveal the affair to her husband if she did not comply.
The judges also refused to hear the case of a Louisiana man who was convicted of sex trafficking and argued that there was gross prosecutorial misconduct in his case. Jackson and Sotomayor were also dissident allies in this matter.