California Public Employees’ Retirement System v ANZ Securities, Inc.

System sought review of the 2nd Circuit decision holding the individual claim field by System more than three years after the securities here were issued after it opted out of a class suit was time barred. The Court, resolving a circuit split on the issue, affirmed 5-4. The majority held that 15 USC 77m contains a one year limitations period with a discovery trigger and a three year from securities issuance statute of repose, this construction is based on the plain language of 77m which includes the phrase “in no event” to set out the effect of the three year limit, there is no exception to the three year limit and the limitations and repose periods have been in the section since the enactment of the Securities Act of 1933. It rejected Systems’ argument that Court percent allowed tolling here as that case involved a limitations period not a repose period, allowing late opt out suits would burden defendants contrary to congressional intent, plaintiffs can opt out and timely file their own suits and any inefficiencies for the repose construction are minimal in practice and there are procedural mechanism for efficient protective filings. It finally rejected System’s argument that the class action made their individual claim timely as the two cases are separate and accepting System’s argument would render the repose protection meaningless. Ginsberg, joined by Sotomayor and Kagan, dissented arguing that the class complaint put ANZ on notice within the repose period and System opting out did nothing but take control of the litigation of its part of the class complaint and further argued that the majority holding will cut off recovery for unsophisticated claimants while burdening the courts with protective filings and incentivize defendants to run out the repose clock with dilatory tactics.

Davila v Davis

Davila sought review of the 5th Circuit decision that ineffective appellate counsel did not provide cause to overcome a state procedural bar and obtain review of alleged trial errors. The Court, 5-4, affirmed. The majority held that Court precedent allowing ineffective assistance at the first state post-conviction relief proceeding to be cause to overcome procedural bars is grounded in the equitable considerations that the criminal trial is the main forum to vindicate defendant’s rights, not allowing cause on that basis would prevent the defendant from ever having his claims heard by any court, those concerns are not present in the appellate context as there is no right to an appeal and appellate ineffectiveness claims must necessarily be done in the post-conviction context, allowing cause to be shown through appellate ineffectiveness would eviscerate the procedural bar doctrine allowing almost all defendants to obtain habeas review which would both impose costs on the federal judiciary who will face a large number of new cases that must be reviewed on the merits and would infringe on state sovereignty and limiting cause it to situations like Davila would aid an infinitesimally small number of people. Breyer, joined by Ginsberg, Sotomayor and Kagan, dissented arguing cause should be allowed here because appellate counsel is important, the initial post-conviction relief proceeding is equally as important as first appeal, not allowing cause to be shown here will deprive defendants of review by some court and the costs stated by the majority are overstated as there is no evidence the precedent allowing cause for post-conviction ineffectiveness has not resulted in a flood of litigation.

Weaver v Massachusetts

Weaver sought review of the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision that he must prove prejudice to obtain a new trial for ineffective assistance of counsel based on a failure to object to closing jury selection to the public. The Court, 7 (6 justice majority plus Alito concurring in judgment) -2, resolved a split of appellate authority and affirmed. The majority noted that Court precedent has declared denial of the right to an open trial structural error but that not all violations require a new trial particularly if an adequate factual foundation is established that closure is necessary despite the interests in preventing unjust conviction and the rights of access by the public. The majority assumed Weaver identified the correct standard of review as the deficient performance of not objecting to a closed jury selection contributed to a fundamentally unfair trial and explained automatic reversal was not appropriate ion collateral review as trial courts are not given a chance to correct the error, reversal on direct review is part of the normal process of direct review and limited time between reversal and new trial is likely while collateral proceedings are often done years later, undermine finality and increase the risk of lost evidence of other harm to the state. Applying here, the majority held that there was no evidence of actual prejudice and that the closure did not create a fundamentally unfair trial as the evidentiary part of eth trial was open to Weaver’s family and the public, the trial was not in a distant place, the potential jurors were witnesses to the voir dire and a record was kept which does not show any basis for concern. Thomas, joined by Gorsuch, added a concurrence noting the extension of the public trial guarantee to vior dire may not be correct under original understanding and arguing the fundamentally unfair trial discussion is dicta. Alito, joined by Gorsuch concurred in judgment arguing that Weaver failed to prove that his conviction was the result of an unreliable proceeding and that means his ineffectiveness assistance claim fails. Breyer, joined by Kagan, dissented arguing that proof of failure to object to a structural error should be sufficient to prove ineffective assistance.