When I got to work this morning and followed my daily routine of checking the judicial branch website to see if there were any opinions being issued today, I was excited. Giddy, even. (Get it? Giddy…)
The Supreme Court had decided to release opinions in three very, very interesting cases. As luck would have it, the opinions were extremely anti-climactic. Nothing in any of these opinions was of substantive value. *grumble* *grumble*
The first, State v. Khadijah, was the appeal from the reversal by the appellate court of the defendant’s conviction. The defendant was convicted of failure to appear, because, after returning from work at 8am, she had fallen asleep on the couch and her boyfriend had forgotten to wake her up in time. The appellate court found that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the conviction on the “willful” element of the charge. The Supreme Court dismissed the State’s appeal on the grounds that cert had been improvidently granted.
Next up, Porter v. Commissioner, was also dismissed on the grounds that cert had been improvidently granted. Porter appealed from the Appellate Court’s denial of his appeal. The appellate court had concluded that the habeas court did not abuse its discretion in denying certification to appeal. Mr. Porter claimed that his appellate counsel was ineffective for not raising the issue of instructional error (which issue was not reached on his direct appeal because it was not adequately briefed – as found by the same appellate court). Nope, no good.
Finally we come to Taylor v. Commissioner. The petitioner claimed that his plea was involuntary. The habeas court denied the petition and denied certification to appeal. On appeal, the appellate court remanded to the habeas court with an order to make findings on whether petitioner had proven cause and prejudice which excused his procedural default. The State appealed, saying that the appellate court improperly found that the habeas court had abused its discretion in denying certification. It was an interesting issue because the appellate court had ruled that if there is no evidence on the record of cause and prejudice, then it can find so, but if there is evidence of cause and prejudice and there is no finding, then it must remand for the habeas court to make that finding. Unfortunately, we got no guidance, because the Supreme Court agreed with the State that the appellate court incorrectly found that the habeas court had abused its discretion in denying certification to appeal. So boo.