Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Pointless Remand
18 Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law 154, Fall 2013
25 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2014
Date Written: October 4, 2013
On the final day of its most recent term, near the end of June 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States summarily vacated an en banc decision by the Ninth Circuit and remanded the case for further consideration in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Salinas v. Texas, 133 S.Ct. 2174 (2013). In this paper, Sherlock Holmes closely examines that remarkable decision by the Supreme Court, and explains why the ostensible reasons for the Court's order were utterly pointless, and in flagrant violation of the many self-imposed restraints which the Court had long assured the lower courts it would observe in the exercise of its power to summarily vacate and remand (or "GVR") a case. It also reveals the surprising explanation behind the Court's equally unprecedented and improbable action in taking as long as it did to GVR the case, and what those facts plainly portend for the Supreme Court's plans for the case when it inevitably returns to that Court after the en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit finishes spinning its wheels on this pointless exercise in futility.
Keywords: Sherlock Holmes, Salinas, Supreme Court, habeas corpus, GVR, federal courts
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