Thursday, April 01, 2010

April 1, without a fool

Y'know, it's refreshing to be able to read a carefully reasoned Mississippi Supreme Court opinion, reversing a felony conviction, that's signed by all nine justices instead of 8-1 with Easley, J., dissenting.

Good riddance.

(And props to Will Bardwell, who took an extremely unpromising-looking case and came out on top with it.)


  1. How "unpromising" could it have been if the court granted cert on the pro se petition before Bardwell entered an appearance?

  2. The number of times Jackson had been denied relief, for one thing. And a unanimous COA opinion. And the fact that a grant of cert is by no means a guarantee of reversal. Credit where it's due, sir or madam.

  3. I think it's a remarkable result, and think Bardwell and his cocounsel are due congratulations.

    It's also remarkable the court granted the pro se cert petition. I'd like to see it.

  4. And I definitely join in the general celebration and good riddance for Justice Easley.

  5. The guy's been in prison for 30 years, but he somehow gets cert granted on his PCR, pro se. First you call his case "unpromising" at that point, then you say "credit where credit is due" (referring to the attorney who came on after the petition was granted)? I understand your friend worked on the case, but, c'mon, give me a break.

  6. Anon, I've never even met Bardwell -- and I didn't mean to say that congrats aren't due to Mr. Jackson as well.

    It's obvious from case titles who the parties are, but not everyone reads the names of the attorneys, so I thought it was worth calling parenthetical attention to Bardwell's work on the case. We can't tell whether Jackson would've prevailed had Bardwell not come on. I have a cert case pending after a grant, and I am by no means assuming that I will prevail on the merits.

  7. Generally speaking, the supreme court grants cert for two reasons--either it has something to say about the law of the case, or it's convinced that the lower court reached the wrong result. So saying that any case where cert is granted is "unpromising" seems wrong on the face of it. I don't know what the statistics are, but I imagine that a significant majority of cases where cert is granted are reversed on at least one issue.

    But then look at this case. Like you said, the lower court's opinion was unanimous. It didn't present any novel legal questions; the law that was being applied is straightforward and well established. So why would the supreme court grant cert on it?

    If anything I imagine the obvious promise of the case after cert was granted is what motivated Bardwell to get involved. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that, and I couldn't presume to say he had no effect on the outcome--but did he take an "unpromising" case? No way.

  8. It is rather annoying that the MSSC's annual report lists how many cert petitions are filed (226 in 2009) and granted (32, of which 6 were then dismissed as improvidently granted), but doesn't say how many of the remaining decisions affirmed or reversed the COA.

    Likewise, the report tells how many cases are decided by published ops, but not what portion of those affirmed or reversed the lower courts.