Shelton v. McQuiggin, 16-577 (cert. petition filed October 28, 2016)
(case below: unpublished (6th Cir.))

Question presented:  Under Schriro v. Landrigan, 550 U.S. 465 (2007), is a habeas petitioner entitled to an evidentiary hearing where his allegations would entitle him to relief and are not contravened by the record, as at least three circuits have held, or must the petitioner already have factual support for his allegations, as four other circuits have now held.

Click here to view Shelton's certiorari petition.  The case was distributed for the January 6, 2017 conference.  On December 30, 2016, a response to the petition was requested.  The case has been distributed for the March 31, 2017 conference.

Carpenter v. United States, 16-402 (cert. petition filed September 26, 2016)
(case below: 819 F.3d 880 (6th Cir.)

Question presented:  In this case, as in thousands of cases each year, the government sought and obtained the historical cell phone location data of a private individual pursuant to a disclosure order under the Stored Communications Act (SCA) rather than by securing a warrant.  Under the SCA, a disclosure order does not require a finding of probable cause.  Instead, the SCA authorizes the issuance of a disclosure order whenever the government "offers specific and articulable facts showing that there are reasonable grounds to believe" that the records sought "are relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation."  18 U.S.C. § 2703(d).

   As a result, the district court never made a probable cause finding before ordering Petitioner's service provider to disclose months' worth of Petitioner's cell phone location records.  A divided panel of the Sixth Circuit held that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in these location records, relying in large part of four-decade-old decisions of this Court.

   The Question Presented is:  Whether the warrantless seizure and search of historical cell phone records revealing the location and movements of a cell phone user over the course of 127 days is permitted by the Fourth Amendment.

Click here to view the certiorari petition.   The case has been distributed for the March 3, 2017 conference.

Chase v. Mississippi, 15-7073 (cert. petition filed November 18, 2015)

(case below: 171 So.3d 463 (Miss.))

Questions presented:  In Hall v. Florida, ___ U.S. ___, 134 S.Ct. 1986 (2014), this Court held that state statutes and procedures which create an unacceptable risk that persons with intellectual disability will be executed violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.  In this case, Petitioner presented substantial evidence of his adaptive functioning deficits at a Circuit Court evidentiary hearing on his post-conviction motion to vacate his death sentence under Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002).

   The Circuit Court rejected all adaptive functioning data from interviews conducted by a qualified psychologist, finding they lacked scientific criteria for assessing reliability.  The Mississippi Supreme Court found that grounds for rejecting the data to be error, but affirmed because the trial court also found that the expert "relied on his own personal opinions and moral judgments rather than on science."
 
    In affirming this ruling, the Mississippi Supreme Court also held that an Atkins petitioner must present "normed data" on adaptive functioning from clinical instruments such as the Vineland or the ABAS in order to prove the second criterion for intellectual disability.  This novel requirement was imposed on Petitioner, even though he had no notice of this 2015 rule at the time of his evidentiary hearing in 2010, and even though the State's own report issued before the evidentiary hearing stated that no such clinical instruments were useful in assessing adaptive behavior retrospectively.

This presents the following questions:  (1) Does it violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, as understood in Atkins and Hall, for a State court to refuse to accept data from clinical interviews with persons who knew a death-sentenced prisoner during the "developmental period"" where the uncontested testimony and scientific and clinical consensus finds such data to be useful in determining the second criteria for intellectual disability, i.e., adaptive functioning deficits?  (2) Does it violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, as understood in Atkins and Hall, for a State court to impose a requirement that a death-sentenced prisoner present "normed data" from clinical instruments in order to prove the second criteria for intellectual disability under Atkins, i.e., adaptive functioning deficits?  (3) Does it violate the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause for a State court to create a novel requirement that a death-sentenced prisoner present "normed data" from clinical instruments in order to prove the second criteria for intellectual disability under Atkins, and impose that requirement to deny relief to a prisoner who had no notice of the requirement during his evidentiary hearing?

 Click here to view Chase's certiorari petition.  The case was distributed for the May 26, 2016 conference.  The record was requested on May 18, 2016.  The case was distributed for the June 9, 2016 conference and then redistributed for the June 16, 2016 conference.