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Another Habeas Reversal For The Sixth Circuit

Posted in Recent Cases, Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has reversed another habeas case from the Sixth Circuit, holding that mentally ill prisoners do not have a statutory right to stay their habeas petitions while incompetent.  See Tibbals v. Carter (No. 11-218).  Justice Thomas’ opinion, however, still allows district court to issue discretionary stays while a prisoner regains competence.  Though it reversed holdings from the Ninth and Sixth circuits, the opinion was especially critical of the Sixth Circuit’s decision.  After the prisoner did not attempt to defend the Sixth Circuit’s statutory basis for the stay, Justice Thomas commented:  “Apparently, Carter found the Sixth Circuit’s reasoning indefensible. We agree.”  This continues a number of reversals in habeas cases before the Sixth Circuit, which we have covered here, here, and here.