Thursday, July 30, 2009

Convicted Civil Rights Murderer Appeals

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has made a rare request that the United States Supreme Court answer whether the statute of limitations has run on two murder convictions.

Here are some details:
In a rare move, the Fifth Circuit Court on Thursday sent to the Supreme Court, with a plea for an answer, a legal question on the time allowed for federal prosecution of an old kidnapping case. The answer, the Circuit Court said, could shut down federal prosecutions of perhaps two dozen old “cold cases” involving civil rights violations.

Because the Circuit Court, sitting en banc, had divided 9-9 on the issue, it could not itself give a definitive answer. Thus, the full Circuit Court, by a 12-6 vote, opted to “certify” the question to the Supreme Court directly — a procedure that is allowed by federal law and Supreme Court Rules, but seldom is used.
(SCOTUS blog). It could be one of the first issues Judge Sotomayor may deal with in her new role as Justice Sotomayer.

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