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Supreme Court rules against Arizona inmates in right-to-counsel case

The U.S. Supreme Court.
J. Scott Applewhite
The U.S. Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court has ruled along ideological lines against two Arizona death row inmates who had argued that their lawyers did a poor job representing them in state court.

The ruling Monday will make it harder for certain inmates sentenced to death or long terms in prison who believe their lawyers failed them to bring challenges on those grounds.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the court’s six-justice conservative majority that the proper role for federal courts in these cases is a limited one.

He said federal courts should not generally conduct a hearing or consider other evidence supporting ineffective assistance of counsel claims if the evidence was not already presented in state court.