Shoop v. Twyford (U.S. Supreme Court, June 2022)

The Federal Docket

June 28, 2022

Raymond Twyford was convicted by an Ohio jury for the 1992 death of Richard Franks and sentenced to death. After exhausting his state remedies, Twyford sought federal habeas review of his Ohio state sentence pursuant to 28 U.S. § 2254. After the State moved to dismiss his claims, alleging them to be procedurally defaulted, the district court permitted an ineffective assistance of counsel claim relevant to this decision to proceed. Specifically, that claim alleged that counsel had been ineffective by failing to present evidence that Twyford had suffered a brain injury during a suicide attempt as a teenager.

Previous scans had found 20 to 30 metal fragments in his skull. However, the institution where he was confined was incapable of conducting the testing necessary to determine the extent of his neurological impairment. As a result, he moved the court to order his transport for such testing, which the district court granted but stayed its execution until the State could appeal its decision. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, and the State’s application for certiorari was granted by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the transportation order was improperly issued by the district court, as Twyford had not made a showing sufficient for it to conclude that any evidence discoverable by further testing would be admissible in the habeas action. As a result, it remanded the case for hearings consistent with its findings.

Both dissenting opinions argued that the Sixth Circuit did not have jurisdiction to hear the State’s interlocutory appeal in the first place, as the transportation order was a collateral order which the Supreme Court had no lawful authority to review.

Certiorari to the Sixth Circuit

Opinion by Roberts, joined by Thomas, Alito, Kavanaugh, and Barrett

Dissent by Breyer, joined by Sotomayor and Kagan

Separate dissent by Gorsuch

Click here to read the opinion

Tom Church - Tom is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on criminal defense and civil trials. Tom is the author of "The Federal Docket" and is a contributor to Mercer Law Review's Annual Survey in the areas of federal sentencing guidelines and criminal law. Tom graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School where he served as a research assistant to the faculty in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights litigation. Read Tom's reviews on AVVO. Follow Tom on Linkedin.

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