Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Texas Case on Representation for Death Row Appeals

On October 29, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a death penalty case from Texas to determine whether inmates there can raise claims of inadequate trial representation in federal court if they were effectively prevented from raising such a claim in their state appeal by the further failure of their appellate lawyers. Lower courts considering this issue have held that an earlier Supreme Court ruling, Martinez v. Ryan (2012), which provided such a right in an Arizona case, does not apply in Texas because defendants have multiple opportunities to claim their lawyers failed them. The case is Trevino v. Thaler. Carlos Trevino’s current lawyers argue that there was a great deal of mitigating evidence that the trial lawyers failed to find and present at trial. The case will probably be argued early next year.

(M. Chammah, “Supreme Court to Hear Texas Death Row Inmate’s Case,” Texas Tribune, October 29, 2012; Trevino v. Thaler, No. 11-10189, cert. granted Oct. 29, 2012). See Representation and Supreme Court. Listen to DPIC’s podcast on the Supreme Court.