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Skinner v. Switzer

Docket No.: 09-9000
Certiorari Granted: 05/24/10
Argued: October 13, 2010
Decided: 03/07/11

Topics:

ineffective assistance of coun, Civil Procedure, Civil Rights Act, Due Process, FOIA, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Fourteenth Amendment, capital murder, habeas, habeas corpus, ineffective assistance of counsel, murder

PartyNames: Henry W. Skinner v. Lynn Switzer, District Attorney for the 31st Judicial District of Texas
Petitioner: Henry W. Skinner
Respondent: Lynn Switzer, District Attorney for the 31st Judicial District of Texas

Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
Citation: 2010 WL 338018
Supreme Court Docket

Henry W. Skinner
v.
Lynn Switzer, District Attorney for the 31st Judicial District of Texas
Question Presented:

For ten years, Henry W. Skinner has sought access to DNA testing that could prove him innocent of the murders that landed him on Death Row. After the Texas courts arbitrarily turned back his diligent attempts to take advantage of state statutes affording such relief, he sued in federal court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to vindicate his due process right to "'fundamental fairness in [the] operation'" of Texas's scheme. Dist. Att'y's Office v. Osborne, 129 S. Ct. 2308, 2320 (2009) (citation omitted). The district court dismissed Mr. Skinner's § 1983 suit solely on the ground that his claim sounded only in habeas corpus, and the Fifth Circuit summarily affirmed. The question presented is the same one the Court granted certiorari in Osborne to decide, but left unresolved: May a convicted prisoner seeking access to biological evidence for DNA testing assert that claim in a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, or is such a claim cognizable only in a petition for writ of habeas corpus?

Question:

Can a convicted prisoner seeking access to biological evidence for DNA testing assert that claim in a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983?

Skinner v. Switzer
ORAL ARGUMENT

10/13/10

Listen to Oral Argument in Skinner v. Switzer
Holding: reversed and remanded
Decision: Decision: 6 votes for Skinner, 3 vote(s) against
Vote: 6-3
Opinion By:
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