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Cruz v. Arizona
Brief of National Association Of Criminal Defense Lawyers, American Civil Liberties Union, and American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona as Amici Curiae in Support of Petitioner.
Argument: Amici submit this brief in support of petitioner's argument that Arizona's refusal to apply federal law--not merely in a single postconviction proceeding, but at every point throughout a criminal defendant's case--is not immune from this Court's review. Here, the Arizona courts have denied petitioner's Due Process claim under Simmons for more than a decade and a half, first on the grounds that Simmons did not apply to Arizona's sentencing scheme, and then, after this Court made clear that it does apply, on the ground that he should have raised it previously because Simmons applied all along. The only thing consistent about the Arizona Supreme Court's treatment of petitioner's Simmons claim is that petitioner loses either way. Under these circumstances, the Arizona Supreme Court's invocation of a procedural rule to bar petitioner's Simmons claim is not "independent and adequate," and does not bar this Court's review.
Knowles v. Mirzayance
Amicus curiae brief of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
Argument: 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) requires that a federal court decide whether a habeas petitioner’s federal claim was fully adjudicated “on the merits” in state court; it has never been applied, as in this case, to a summary, unexplained state court decision. Respondent’s trial counsel’s last-minute decision to forego his insanity defense was objectively unreasonable, and respondent’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim should prevail.