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Sunday, May 03, 2015

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides one Indiana-related case on May 1st [Updated several times]

In Bruce Carneil Webster v. Charles A. Daniels (SD Ind., Lawrence), a 62-page, 6-5 en banc decision, Chief Judge Wood writes:

Since 1948, federal prisoners who contend that they were convicted or sentenced in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States have been required in most cases to present that claim through a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The motion must be filed in the district of conviction. As a rule, the remedy afforded by section 2255 functions as an effective substitute for the writ of habeas corpus that it largely replaced. See 28 U.S.C. § 2241; United States v. Hayman, 342 U.S. 205 (1952). But Congress recognized that there might be occasional cases in which “the remedy by motion is inadequate or ineffective to test the le-gality of [the applicant’s] detention.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e). The question before us is whether petitioner Bruce Webster has presented such a case. If so, then he may proceed to the merits of his petition; if not, then his case must be dismissed at the threshold. * * *

Webster is now seeking the opportunity to present newly discovered evidence that would demonstrate that he is categorically and constitutionally ineligible for the death penalty under the Supreme Court’s decisions in Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002), and Hall. A panel of this court concluded that new evidence can never satisfy the demanding standard of section 2255(e) and thus that Webster cannot be heard. Webster v. Caraway, 761 F.3d 764 (7th Cir. 2014) (Webster IV). In light of the importance of the question, the full court decided to rehear the case en banc. We conclude that there is no such absolute bar to the use of the safety valve found in section 2255(e) for new evidence that would demonstrate categorical ineligibility for the death penalty. We therefore reverse the district court’s judgment and remand for further proceedings.

ILB Question: The opinion lists the participating judges as WOOD, Chief Judge, and BAUER, POSNER, FLAUM, EASTERBROOK, KANNE, ROVNER, WILLIAMS, SYKES, TINDER, and HAMILTON, Circuit Judges. That makes ELEVEN. Then how did the recent en banc voter ID ruling tie at 5-5? (Actually, it appears the 5-5 vote was on a motion to rehear, enbanc, but still ...).

[More] Sentencing Law Blog has a May 1st post that begins:

If you love to spend a spring weekend thinking through the statutes and policies that govern federal collateral review of federal death sentences — and really, who doesn't? — then the en banc Seventh Circuit has a great ruling for you.
[Updated at 1:42] A reader has answered the en banc question, responding:
Judge Bauer is a senior judge. He typically wouldn't sit on en banc. But he must have been on the original 3 judge panel.
The ILB has now checked the Aug. 1, 2014 opinion and indeed, Bauer was on the panel, along with Easterbrook and Sykes.

[Updated again at 1:49] Another reader adds:

In this case, Judge Bauer was on the original panel, see Webster v. Caraway, 761 F.3d 764 (7th Cir. 2014), vacated, and also sat with the court en banc. A few years ago, both Judge Manion and Judge Ripple had been on the panel and then sat en banc, so there was a 12-member court. See Killian v. Concert Health Plan, 742 F.3d 651 (7th Cir. 2013) (en banc). In fact, Judge Ripple wrote the majority opinion and Judge Manion authored a dissent in that case.
[Updated again, on Mon. mornng]
Q - A reader writes: Tinder took senior status in Feb. How was it that he was able to participate in the en banc decision?

Answer from a reader: Re Tinder, did the vote on the en banc take place before he took senior status? If so, that'd make him eligible.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 3, 2015 12:58 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions