Schexnayder v. Vannoy

Brief of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers as Amicus Curiae in Support of Petitioner (on petition for a writ of certiorari)

Brief filed: 04/04/2019


Schexnayder v. Vannoy

United States Supreme Court; Case No. 18-8341

Question Presented

On petition for a writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Case No. 18-30670 (5th Cir. Dec. 28, 2018), rehearing denied Jan. 18, 2019.


AEDPA deference should not apply to decisions of state-court jurists who labor under a probability of actual bias. Due process requires a judge free from the “Probability of Actual Bias.” Petitioner’s state post-conviction appeals were tainted by the probability of actual bias. The federal district court accorded AEDPA deference despite the probability of actual bias. Lower courts are split over whether federal habeas petitioners may challenge state post-conviction procedures that violate due process. The question presented is important because state courts are the “primary”— and, in almost every case, the only – “forums” for vindicating prisoners’ federal constitutional rights. 

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Stephen L. Shackleford, Jr. and Steven Shepard, Susman Godfrey, LLP, New York, NY; Jeffrey T. Green, NACDL, Washington, DC.

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