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Name: Durden v. California
Case #: 00-6479
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 02/20/2001
Subsequent History: 121 S.Ct. 1183; 148 L.Ed.2d 1027

Justices Souter and Breyer joined together here, dissenting from the denial of the petition for writ of certiorari. Citing Riggs v. California (1999) 525 U.S. 1114, they noted that the primary reason for denying that certiorari petition was the expectation that rulings by lower courts on the issues would be valuable. The Justices noted that two years after Riggs, the California Supreme Court had not reviewed the issue, and the federal district courts have uniformly denied relief to California prisoners like this one. Moreover, the Ninth Circuit has not considered the issue. Rather than waiting for the Ninth Circuit to do so, two considerations prompt consideration now: first, the potential for disagreement over the allocation of the habeas corpus standards of Teague v. Lane (1989) 489 U.S. 288, and the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, were we to take up this question in the federal habeas context; and second, that there are now 319 California prisoners serving sentences of 25 years to life for what would otherwise be misdemeanor theft under California law.