The Court on Tuesday ended the Term with one last capital case. In Sears v. Upton the Court closed out Justice Stevens service with the Court much as it had done a decade before with Justice Blackmun’s era on the Court. Five justices voted to grant the petition of ceriorari, vacate the decision below, and remand, a/k/a a “GVR”. The per curiam opinion holds trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel and that the improperly weighed whether Sears was prejudiced. Justice Scalia, joined by Justice Thomas, dissented. The Chief Justice and Justice Alito believe cert. was improvidently granted.
My back of the envelope math has the GVR’s this Term roughly spread equally between pro-executioner and pro-defendant holdings making me wonder whether there was a “Gentleman’s agreement” on the topic giving so many GVRs to each side this past Term.