In plain English: the New York defense team for Zeigler have asked the USSC to review the decision of a the Florida Supreme Court.
This type of petition usually argues that a lower court has incorrectly decided an important question of law, and that the mistake should be fixed to prevent confusion in similar cases.
The US Supreme Court can refuse to take up the case. It denies almost all petitions and hears about 100 per calendar year. If the USSC accepts the case, it “grants a Writ of Certiorari.”
To learn more about the Supreme Court procedures, please follow the SCOTUS Blog.
The New York defense team is asking the USSC to:
- resolve the conflicting interpretations of the Brady materiality standard as established in Kyles v. Whiley, 514 U.S. 419, 435 (1995) and
- to make sure that the Supreme Court of Florida applies the correct defense-friendly Giglio materiality standard instead of the higher materiality standard from Brady
As I explained in the post “Legal Consequences” the original trial lawyer Terry Hadley started the Zeigler defense from the assumption that the documents he had received were correct.
Detective Frye continuously told the defense that he did not know a man called Robert Foster. He even stated so on the stand and that there had just been a typographical error in the arrest report. Therefore, Hadley and the rest of the Zeigler defense team relied on the state’s assertions that: Robert Foster did not exist, that Frye had not spoken to a man named Robert Foster and, that there was no involvement of a man named Robert Foster in the Zeigler case. Frye signed a new arrest report dated March 26, 1976 leaving out any information about a man called Robert Foster.
If Hadley had evidence that Robert Foster did exist, he would have undermined the credibility of one of the state’s own witnesses. The state has an obligation under Brady v. Maryland to disclose any favourable evidence even if that meant it could impeach their own witnesses.
To be continued!