2010 term per curiam opinions of the Supreme Court of the United States

The Supreme Court of the United States handed down ten per curiam opinions during its 2010 term, which began October 4, 2010 and concluded October 1, 2011.[1]

Because per curiam decisions are issued from the Court as an institution, these opinions all lack the attribution of authorship or joining votes to specific justices. All justices on the Court at the time the decision was handed down are assumed to have participated and concurred unless otherwise noted.

Court membership

Chief Justice: John Roberts

Associate Justices: Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan

Wilson v. Corcoran

Full caption: Bill K. Wilson, Superintendant, Indiana State Prison v. Joseph E. Corcoran
Citations: 562 U.S. 1;131 S. Ct. 13
Prior history: Petition granted sub nom., Corcoran v. Buss, 483 F.Supp.2d 709 (N.D. Ind. 2007); reversed, 551 F.3d 703 (7th Cir. 2008); vacated and remanded, sub nom. Corcoran v. Levenhagen, 558 U.S. 1 (2009) (per curiam); on remand, writ granted, 593 F.3d 547 (7th Cir. 2010); rehearing denied, opinion amended, 7th Cir.

Full text of the opinion:


official slip opinion  · FindLaw  · Justia

562 U.S. 1
Decided November 8, 2010.
In 1997, a trial jury found Joseph Corcoran guilty of murdering four men and he was sentenced to death. The trial court included three factors in its justification of the sentence: the innocence of those killed, the heinousness of the crime, and his potential to commit these crimes in the future. The Indiana Supreme Court vacated this sentence on the basis that these three factors are not admissible in a sentencing decision under Indiana law. In response, the trial court stated that it did not rely on these factors in its sentence, whereupon the Indiana Supreme Court finally affirmed the sentence.

Corcoran filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in federal court, which the District Court granted based on one of his claims without discussing the others. The Seventh Circuit reversed and directed the District Court upon remand to deny the writ, without permitting it to review the other claims and without explaining why those claims should not be considered. The Supreme Court vacated that decision in Corcoran v. Levenhagen, 558 U.S. 1 (2009), explaining that it was error for the Seventh Circuit to dispose of the petitioner's other claims without any explanation. On remand, the Seventh Circuit now granted habeas relief to Corcoran, indicating that the state courts should reconsider its sentence in order to comply with state law.

The Supreme Court vacated the Seventh Circuit's ruling. The Court ruled that Federal courts may only grant a writ of habeas corpus if a violation of federal law is found. Federal courts may not grant habeas relief if, instead, the only issue raised is a potential violation of state law.

Costco Wholesale Corp. v. Omega, S.A.

Full caption: Costco Wholesale Corporation v. Omega, S.A.
Citations: 562 U.S. 40;
Prior history: Judgment in favor of Costco, 2007 WL 7029735 (C.D. Cal., 2007); reversed, 541 F.3d 982 (9th Cir., 2008); affirmed

Full text of the opinion: official slip opinion

562 U.S. 40
Decided December 13, 2010.
The decision was a summary affirmation "by an equally divided court" of the Ninth Circuit's decision.

Madison County v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York

Full caption: Madison County, New York et al. v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York
Citations: 562 U.S. 42;
Prior history: On remand following City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of N.Y., 544 U.S. 197, 125 S.Ct. 1478, 161 L.Ed.2d 386 (2005); Oneida Indian Nation v. Oneida County, 432 F.Supp.2d 285 (N.D.N.Y.2006); Oneida Indian Nation of N.Y. v. Madison County, 401 F.Supp.2d 219 (N.D.N.Y.2005); affirmed sub nom. Oneida Indian Nation of N.Y. v. Madison County, 605 F.3d 149 (2nd Cir., 2010).

Full text of the opinion:


official slip opinion

562 U.S. 42
Decided January 10, 2011.
The case involved the issue of whether tribal sovereign immunity protected the Oneida Indian Nation against foreclosure by local taxing authorities to enforce due property taxes. After the Supreme Court granted certiorari, the tribe passed a tribal declaration and ordinance waiving its immunity against tax enforcement. The Supreme Court then vacated and remanded for the Second Circuit to consider the effect of this new development.

Swarthout v. Cooke

Full caption: Gary Swarthout, Warden v. Damon Cooke[2]
Citations: 562 U.S. 216;
Prior history: Petition denied; rev'd, sub nom. Cooke v. Solis, 606 F. 3d 1206 (9th Cir. 2010)

Full text of the opinion: official slip opinion

562 U.S. 216
Decided January 24, 2011.
Ginsburg filed a concurrence.

Felkner v. Jackson

Full caption: T. Felkner v. Steven Frank Jackson
Citations: 562 U.S. 594;
Prior history: Petition denied, No. 2:07-cv-00555-RJB (E.D. Cal.); rev'd, 389 Fed. Appx. 640 (9th Cir. 2010)
Laws applied: U.S. Const. amend. XIV

Full text of the opinion: official slip opinion

562 U.S. 594
Decided March 21, 2011.
A California jury convicted Steven Frank Jackson of numerous sexual offenses. Jackson raised a Batson claim (Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79), because two of three black prospective jurors had been struck. The prosecutor's race-neutral explanations for the exclusion were accepted by the California Court of Appeal, and the California Supreme Court denied Jackson's petition for review.

Jackson sought federal habeas relief. The Federal District Court found that the state courts' decisions were not unreasonable and denied Jackson's petition, but was reversed by the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in a three-paragraph memorandum opinion, without discussing any facts or reasoning of the three courts that had rejected Jackson's claim.

The Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit Court's decision, noting that "On federal habeas review, AEDPA 'imposes a highly deferential standard for evaluating state-court rulings' and 'demands that state-court decisions be given the benefit of the doubt.'" Moreover, "The state appellate court’s decision was plainly not unreasonable. There was simply no basis for the Ninth Circuit to reach the opposite conclusion, particularly in such a dismissive manner."

Bobby v. Mitts

Full caption: David Bobby, Warden v. Harry Mitts
Citations: 563 U.S. 395;
Prior history: Defendant convicted, sentenced to death, State v. Mitts; aff'd, No. 68612, 1996 WL 732452 (Ohio Ct. App. Dec. 19, 1996); aff'd, 690 N.E.2d 522 (Ohio 1998); postconviction petition denied; aff'd, No. 05-4420, 2000 WL 1433952 (Ohio Ct. App. Sept. 28, 2000); motion to reopen appeal denied, No. 68612, 2002 WL 1335629 (Ohio Ct. App. May 10, 2002); aff'd, 784 N.E.2d 698 (Ohio 2003); habeas petition denied, sub nom. Mitts v. Bagley, No. 03-01131, 2005 WL 2416929 (N.D. Ohio Sept. 29, 2005); rev'd, 620 F. 3d 650 (6th Cir. 2010)

Full text of the opinion: official slip opinion

563 U.S. 395
Decided May 2, 2011.

United States v. Juvenile Male

Full caption: United States v. Juvenile Male
Citations: 564 U.S. 932;
Prior history: Defendant convicted, D. Mont., 2005; defendant resentenced, D. Mont., July 2007; vacated in part, 590 F. 3d 924 (9th Cir. 2010); question certified, 560 U.S. 558 (2010)

Full text of the opinion: official slip opinion

564 U.S. 932
Decided June 27, 2011.
The Court vacated the Ninth Circuit's judgment, because the case had become moot and the lower court, therefore, lacked constitutional authority under Article III to decide the case on the merits.

Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor noted, without separate opinion, that they would have remanded the case to the Ninth Circuit for that court to consider the mootness issue in the first instance.

Justice Kagan did not participate in the consideration or decision of the case.

Leal Garcia v. Texas

Main article: Leal Garcia v. Texas
Full caption: Humberto Leal Garcia, AKA Humberto Leal v. Texas[3]
Citations: 564 U.S. 940;

Full text of the opinion: official slip opinion

564 U.S. 940
Decided July 7, 2011.
The Court denied an application for a stay of execution of Humberto Leal Garcia, Jr., a Mexican national who argued that his conviction and death sentence in Texas violated the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

Justice Breyer filed a dissent, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan.

Leal Garcia was executed on July 7, 2011 as scheduled.


  1. The description of two opinions been omitted; the Court's opinion in Tolentino v. New York, 563 U.S. 123 (2010) was a one-line dismissal of certiorari as improvidently granted, and in the opinion Flores-Villar v. United States, 564 U.S. 210 (2011) noted only that the lower court's judgment was affirmed by an equally divided court.
  2. Swarthout v. Cooke was decided together with Matthew Cate, Secretary, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation v. Elijah Clay, lower court decision reported at Clay v. Kane, 384 Fed. Appx. 544 (9th Cir. 2010).
  3. Decided together with In re Leal Garcia, No. 11-5002 (11A2), and Leal Garcia v. Thaler, No. 11-5081 (11A21).


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