Upcoming capital habeas argument


Photo by Lars Karlsson / GFDL / Wikimedia Commons

April’s last CA3 argument is this Thursday. Just 1 case: a capital habeas appeal brought by the Philly DA, challenging Judge Padova’s grant of habeas relief to “Sugar Bear” Lark based on racially discriminatory use of peremptory strikes in jury selection at trial in 1985. The case is Lark v. DOC, 12-9003.

CA3’s prior ruling in this case, a 2011 remand, is here. It contains this apt description of the complexity of habeas law:

We can understand why by this time a reader of this opinion would wonder whether we ever would reach the substantive issue on this appeal, i.e., did the District Court correctly grant Lark habeas corpus relief leading to his release or a new trial? But our long discussion of the procedural and jurisdictional issues was necessitated by the remarkable complexity of the law governing habeas corpus petitions which to a large extent is the result of the interaction of state and federal law inherent in our dual sovereignty system. In fact, solving the procedural and jurisdictional issues before we could reach the substantive issues on this appeal was a process much like solving Rubik’s cube.

Thursday’s panel will be McKee, Scirica, and Greenberg. Arguing counsel are CA3 veterans Tom Dolgenos of the Philly DA and Stu Lev of the Philly CHU.

Update: oral argument audio here.