"Checking up on a capital case," is Lyle Denniston's post at SCOTUSblog.
The Supreme Court on Monday ordered a Philadelphia lawyer to answer his client’s protest that an appeal challenging his death sentence should not have been filed in the Court. In a brief order, the Court denied the petition (Ballard v. Pennsylvania) but simultaneously called for a response from the attorney who filed it.
The petition was filed on February 7 by Marc Bookman, an attorney with the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation in Philadelphia. Prosecutors urged the Supreme Court not to grant review.
In a letter dated June 2 and filed at the Court on June 10, the client, Michael E. Ballard, said he had learned from the media that “an appeal has been filed on my behalf contesting my death sentence. I never authorized anyone to file anything on my behalf. I am not appealing this sentence any further than it has been.”
Today's Allentown Morning Call reports, "U.S. Supreme Court denies Ballard appeal; lawyer has some explaining to do," by Riley Yates.
The U.S. Supreme Court wants an attorney who filed an appeal on mass murderer Michael Eric Ballard's behalf to explain why he apparently did so without his client's knowledge.
In a two-sentence order Monday, the justices dismissed a petition that sought to challenge the death sentence Ballard received for massacring four people in a Northampton home in 2010. But in a rare move, the court also ordered Philadelphia lawyer Marc Bookman to address Ballard's allegation that the appeal was made against his wishes, with Bookman given 40 days to do so.
Inmates who waive their appeals are referred to as volunteers.