Wilson v. Sellers (Argument October 30, 2017)

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Supreme Court Graphic Explainer: Wilson v. Sellers

The Supreme Court will hear this case on the same day as Ayestas v. Davis. Both cases involve individuals sentenced to death claiming their lawyers did not effectively help them avoid the death penalty. 

Wilson's case involves a different procedural issue. Individuals seeking federal court review of habeas corpus claims (like ineffective assistance of counsel), must start in state courts. They must "exhaust" their state court potential before getting federal court review.

Even then, the federal court is going to give substantial weight to the underlying state court decision. 

But for Wilson, the underlying state court decision was only one sentence long. How can the federal court review a decision without any discussion? The Supreme Court will clarify what the federal courts should do in this case.

 

What is a decision "on the merits"?

Click here to check out our explainer on this important legal concept.

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