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Docket No.: 15-5040
Certiorari Granted: October 1, 2015


Fourteenth Amendment

PartyNames: Terrance Williams v. Pennsylvania
Petitioner: Terrance Williams
Respondent: Pennsylvania

Court Below: Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Eastern District
Citation: 105 A.3d 1234
Supreme Court Docket

Terrance Williams

Are the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments violated where the presiding Chief Justice of a State Supreme Court declines to recuse himself in a capital case where he had personally approved the decision to pursue capital punishment against Petitioner in his prior capacity as elected District Attorney and continued to head the District Attorney's Office that defended the death verdict on appeal; where, in his State Supreme Court election campaign, the Chief Justice expressed strong support for capital punishment, with reference to the number of defendants he had "sent" to death row, including Petitioner; and where he then, as Chief Justice, reviewed a ruling by the state post- conviction court that his office committed prosecutorial misconduct under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), when it prosecuted and sought death against Petitioner? 2. In Aetna Life Insurance Co. v. Lavoie, 475 U.S. 813 (1986), this Court left open the question whether the Constitution is violated by the bias, appearance of bias, or potential bias of one member of a multimember tribunal where that member did not cast the deciding vote. The circuits and states remain split on that question.

Question Presented:

Are the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments violated by the participation of a potentially biased jurist on a multimember tribunal deciding a capital case, regardless of whether his vote is ultimately decisive?


0/igned /ig

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Case Documents

1Questions Presented in WILLIAMS v. PENNSYLVANIA