U.S. Supreme Court Sides With Michigan Supreme Court in Another Habeas Case
The issue in Metrish v. Lancaster was whether a diminished capacity defense ever existed in Michigan, and if so why and for how long; an underlying issue was who makes criminal law.
Lancaster had pled diminished capacity in his 1993 murder trial, but
was convicted. That conviction was overturned for jury selection errors.
The Michigan Supreme Court in 2001 said that the legislature had effectively abolished the diminished capacity defense if it ever even existed in Michigan, and denied the use of the defense to Lancaster in his 2005 retrial, and the federal district court agreed. The 6th Circuit, however, held that Lancaster was entitled to use the defense in his retrial.
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court in a 9-0 decision by Justice Ruth Bader
Ginsburg released just 27 days after oral argument, agreed with the
Michigan Supreme Court. Lyle Deniston at SCOTUSBlog says "generously" interpreted the power of a state supreme
court to cast aside a string of lower state court rulings allowing a
legal defense, but did not appear to make much new law on retroactivity