After 11 Conferences, and a Record-Request, #SCOTUS GVRs Caetano Stun-Gun Case

March 21st, 2016

In Caetano v. Massachusetts, the Mass. Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the state could categorically ban stun guns. A cert petition was filed on June 1, 2015. The state (unsurprisingly) waived a response. After the first conference on July 2, 2015, the Court requested a response. It was then scheduled for conference on November 13; and relisted for November 24, December 4, and December 11. On December 8, the Court requested the record from the SJC, which took all of six days to deliver a single envelope. The case was the listed for the January 8, 2016 conference; and relisted for January 15, January 22, February¬†19 (note the missing conference due to Justice Scalia’s memorial), March 4, and finally March 18. Today, nine months after the initial¬†cert petition was filed, following 11 conferences, the Court GVRd the case, with a blistering concurring opinion by Justices Alito and Thomas.

I will discuss the merits of Caetano in another post, but wanted to focus here on the bizarre posture. Does anyone recall a petition that was relisted this many times to ultimately wind up in a GVR? Usually after many relists, we get a dissent from denial of certiorari, but not a GVR. Could it be that the concurring opinion pushed the rest of the Court to GVR?