Stephen Reinhardt

Ninth Circuit justice Stephen Reinhardt appears placid, if not down right mirthful, in the photo on the left.

But Wednesday was not a good day for Reinhardt, considered one of the more left-leaning judges, if not the leftest, on a bench that has its fair share of left-leaners.

The judge was reversed twice today by the U.S. Supreme Court in two cases in which he authored opinions overturning murder convictions.

In one case, Harrington v. Richter, Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy wrote a majority opinion accusing the Ninth Circuit of “judicial disregard” for overturning a murder conviction of Joshual Richter on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. Kennedy found that Richter’s lawyer was not deficient for failing to seek forensic blood evidence.

(Click here to read an overview of the Richter case from SCOTUSblog and here for the SCOTUS opinion.)

In the second case, Premo v. Moore, the defendant confessed to police that he committed the murder but he later claimed ineffective assistance of counsel, contending that his lawyer should have moved to suppress his confession.

Judge Reinhardt, writing on behalf of a Ninth Circuit panel agreed, granting the defendant habeas relief. Again, Justice Kennedy, in a more muted majority opinion, was unpersuaded by the the handiwork below. “There is a most substantial burden on the claimant to show ineffective assistance,” Kennedy wrote. (Click here for a SCOTUSblog overview of the Premo case and here for the opinion.)

At The Volokh Conspiracy , John Elwood wrote: “As an alumnus of the Ninth Circuit, Justice Kennedy has at times been particularly critical of that court when he thinks it has applied the law unreasonably. That was very much on display.”

Reinhardt, of course, has also been drawing heat over the Prop. 8 case. He is on the panel that will hear the appeal from the lower-court ruling that the voter-approved measure banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

The defendants have asked the judge to recuse himself from hearing the appeal due to the fact that his wife used to be a high-ranking official at the ACLU. But Reinhardt declined to step aside.

Good to know

Areas of Practice 1) Entertainment Law and 2) Labor Law.
Law School Yale Law School LL.B.
Education Pomona College, (B.A.,1951)
Bar Member / Association United States Commission on Civil Rights, Democratic National Committee
Barbara A. Fitzgerald
Barbara A. Fitzgerald

Ms. Fitzgerald represents employers in a wide range of industries, including the entertainment, financial services, hospitality, manufacturing, retail, and transportation industries.

Carol R. Freeman
Carol R. Freeman

Carol R. Freeman is a partner in Morgan Lewis's Labor and Employment Practice. Ms. Freeman represents employers in employment law, labor relations, and related administrative claims and litigation.

Dennis J. Morikawa
Dennis J. Morikawa

Dennis J. Morikawa is a partner in Morgan Lewis's Labor and Employment Practice, where he heads the Occupational Safety and Health Law Practice.