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MADISON - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today that the United States Supreme Court yesterday overturned a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit that threw out a Shawano County homicide conviction for a killing committed in 1994.
In a brief order in Schmidt v. Van Patten, No. 05-1527, the Supreme Court on January 16, 2007, granted the State's petition for a writ of certiorari, vacated the Seventh Circuit's decision, and remanded the case to the Seventh Circuit for further consideration in light of Carey v. Musladin, No. 05‑785, a decision issued by the Supreme Court on December 11, 2006.
"I'm pleased with today's Supreme Court order," Van Hollen said. "Congress revised the federal habeas corpus statutes in 1996 to strictly limit the circumstances under which a federal court could overturn a criminal conviction occurring in a state court. In this case, we believe the Seventh Circuit went beyond those limits when it invalidated Mr. Van Patten's conviction for first-degree reckless homicide. Yesterday's order by the Supreme Court requires the Seventh Circuit to reexamine its decision in light of recent Supreme Court precedent emphasizing these limitations."
The Court's order today returns the case to the Seventh Circuit for a new decision that takes into account the Supreme Court's recent decision in Musladin, another federal habeas corpus case that raises the question of whether a federal appellate court complied with the narrow limits Congress established for reviewing the validity of criminal convictions in state courts.
Assistant Attorney General Christopher G. Wren represented the State in the proceedings in federal court.