Schexnayder v. Vannoy

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied. Statement of JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR respecting the denial of certiorari. In 2007, a former employee of Louisiana’s Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal shot himself in his courthouse office. The employee left a suicide note claiming that he had been tormented by his involvement in that Court of Appeal’s secret, 13–year policy of summarily denying pro se appeals. Purpura, Fifth Circuit Ordered To Review Appeals; Due Process Denied, Supreme Court Says, New Orleans, La., Times-Picayune, Oct. 7, 2008, p. 1. The note reportedly stated that no judge had reviewed a habeas application filed by a pro se inmate during that time; instead, courthouse staff prepared rulings that judges signed “without so much as a glance” at the underlying petitions or any review of the applications’ merits. Johnson v. Parish of Jefferson, 2009 WL 1808718, *4 (ED La., June 19, 2009). In response to this revelation, the Louisiana Supreme Court approved a procedure whereby a three-judge panel— drawn from the same pool of Court of Appeal judges who had allegedly summarily rejected pro se filings—would rereview hundreds of pro se submissions that had been dismissed without consideration. State v. Cordero, 2008–1717 (La. 10/3/08), 993 So. 2d 203. Justice John L. Weimer dissented from that decision, arguing that the cases should be assigned to judges sitting on other courts of appeal to “avoid any appearance of impropriety.”Schexnayder v. Vannoy