HAMILTON v. TEXAS
498 U.S. 908 (1990)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

HAMILTON v. TEXAS , 498 U.S. 908 (1990)

498 U.S. 908

Alexzene HAMILTON, As Natural Mother and Next Friend to James Edward Smith, petitioner
v.
TEXAS. No. 89-7838.

Supreme Court of the United States

October 9, 1990

The motion of Chris Lonchar Kellogg for leave to intervene is denied. The petition for a writ of certiorari to the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas is denied.

Justice MARSHALL, with whom Justice BLACKMUN joins, concurring.

I agree with Justice STEVENS that the issue raised in this petition is important and merits resolution by this Court. I write to express my frustration with the Court's failure to avail itself of the ordinary procedural mechanisms that would have permitted us to resolve that issue in this case.

It is already a matter of public record that four Members of this Court voted to grant certiorari before petitioner was executed.

Page 498 U.S. 908 , 909

See Hamilton v. Texas, 497 U.S. 1016 ( 1990) (Brennan, J., dissenting from denial of application for stay). According to established practice, this fact should have triggered a fifth vote to grant petitioner's application for a stay of his execution.* Indeed, this result flows naturally from the standard by which we evaluate stay applications, a central component of which is "whether four Justices are likely to vote to grant certiorari." Coleman v. Paccar, Inc., 424 U.S. 1301, 1302, 846 (1976) (REHNQUIST, J., in chambers) (emphasis added); see also Maggio v. Williams, 464 U.S. 46, 48, 313 (1983) (per curiam) (same).

In my view, the Court's willingness in this case to dispense with the procedures that it ordinarily employs to preserve its jurisdiction only continues the distressing rollback of the legal safeguards traditionally afforded. Compare Boyde v. California, 494 U.S. 370, 387-388, ___ (1990) (MARSHALL, J., dissenting) (criticizing diminution in standard used to assess unconstitutional jury instructions in capital cases); Barefoot v. Estelle, 463 U.S. 880, 912-914, 3404-3406 (1983) (MARSHALL, J., dissenting) ( criticizing Court's endorsement of summary appellate procedures in capital cases); Autry v. McKaskle, 465 U.S. 1085, 1085-1086, 1458- 1459 (1984) (MARSHALL, J., dissenting from denial of certiorari) (criticizing expedited consideration of petitions for certiorari in capital cases).

Justice STEVENS, with whom Justice BLACKMUN joins, concurring.

This petition for a writ of certiorari raises important, recurring questions of law that should be decided by this Court. These questions concern the standards that the Due Process Clause of [498 U.S. 908 , 910]


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