Supreme Court, Arizona, Cruz discussed on Bloomberg Law


And we had to have lynch in order to really cinch the deal. One thing I'm a little worried about is that if we rule in your favor in this case, that it will be giving other states essentially a road map for defining this court's criminal law decisions. Joining me is Jordan Rubin, Bloomberg law reporter. This appeal is not about the defendant's guilt, but about his sentence. Tell us a little about the case and what happened during the penalty phase. Sure, so John Cruz was convicted in Arizona state court, a first degree murder for shooting Tucson police officer, Patrick hardesty in 2003, but it was in cruise's guilt but a sentence that prompted the issue at the Supreme Court. So at the sentencing phase, Cruz wanted the jury to know that he would have been ineligible for parole if he was sentenced to life instead of death. And that actually wound up being a really important issue because we know that the jury foreman actually later said that they are looking for a reason to be lenient, but Arizona didn't allow that at the time. And that was despite an earlier U.S. Supreme Court precedent from 1994 called Simmons, which said that defendants have the right to inform juries of their parole ineligibility in that situation when their future danger is an issue. So for decades, Arizona refuses to follow that Supreme Court rule, so then the court basically tells Arizona directly, this is the rule you have to follow it. That's right. So the Simmons case happened at the Supreme Court in 1994. Cruz was prosecuted in Arizona after that. But then there was an Arizona case that went to the Supreme Court after Cruz was sentenced called lynch against Arizona in 2016 where the U.S. Supreme Court basically told Arizona you have to apply this precedent simmonds. And so Cruz had previously raised a challenge before the lynch case trying to argue that he should have been able to tell the jury about his parole ineligibility status based on Simmons, then after lynch after the use Supreme Court told Arizona, you have to apply our precedent, Cruz tried again, but he was rejected again in state court, and that's what prompted this U.S. Supreme Court appeal this kind of ping ponging back and forth and cruises repeated attempts and repeated rejections to try and get the benefit of this U.S. Supreme Court precedent in the sentence case. So that's why justice Elena Kagan said Kafka would have loved this case. Exactly. So the way she put it, she says, Costco would have loved this because Cruz loses his Simmons claim on direct appeal in the first instance before the lynch case. And then he tries again and the reason he loses according to the state is because no, Simmons is actually always applied. It was just that lynch told Arizona that it had to then apply the law. So it wasn't what's called a significant change in the law, according to Arizona, and that's super important for this case because it all comes down to this state procedural rule, which says that on post conviction, like what Cruz was trying to raise. He can only get the benefit if there was a significant change in law. And according to Arizona, the lynch holding wasn't a significant change. I thought it was odd that the state was still arguing in its briefs that Simmons and lynch were wrongly decided by the court and justice Kagan told Arizona's attorney Joseph Kane field that she found that shocking and perhaps a bit insulting. In this case, you're still saying, like lynch is wrongly decided Simmons is wrongly decided we can't really, we just really hate all this stuff. It sounds like your thumbing your nose at us. Justice Kagan is absolutely no disrespect was intended by that footnote to the court. And I apologize if that is the way it came across. Tell us about Arizona's arguments. So Arizona takes this sort of hyper technical reading. They're saying it's just a state issue that in the first instance, it shouldn't even get to the U.S.

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