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Supreme Court Opens Term With Reinhardt Reversal:
In July 2005, Judge Reinhardt wrote an 2-1 opinion joined by Judge Paez in Belmontes v. Brown ruling that California's "catchall" instruction to juries in death penalty cases did not provide enough opportunity to consider favorable evidence for the defendant. Judge O'Scannlain dissented:
[T]he majority strains mightily--and unpersuasively--to perceive constitutional error in the comprehensive and perfectly proper jury instructions given by the state trial judge. Because there simply is no such error, and the Supreme Court has expressly told us so on two separate occasions, I must respectfully dissent from the court's reversal of the district court's denial of the petition for the writ with respect to the penalty phase.
Today the Supreme Court handed down the first opinion of the Term, Ayers v. Belmontes, reversing Reinhardt in an opinion by Justice Kennedy. There's a bit of a deja vu feeling to the case, but there are at least two interesting tidbits: all four left-of-center Justices dissented, making this a 5-4 decision, and Justice Scalia's brief concurrence that would have adopted a more expansive view was joined only by Justice Thomas (and not by Roberts or Alito).

  Thanks to SCOTUSblog for the links.
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