The Stein Center co-authored amicus briefs involving legal ethics issues in civil and criminal cases before the Supreme Court and joined a group of legal ethics professors as amici in a fourth.

Berman v. New York City, No. 13-598, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, May 31, 2013

United States of America v. Davila, No. 12-167, Supreme Court of the United States, March 22, 2013

Connick v. Thompson, No. 09-571, Supreme Court of the United States, August 13, 2010

Holland v. Florida, No. 09-5327, Supreme Court of the United States, December 30, 2009

Baze v. Rees, No. 07-5439, Supreme Court of the United States, November 13, 2007

Mickens v. Taylor, No. 00-9285, Supreme Court of the United States, July 19, 2001

Legal Servs. Corp. v. Velazquez, Nos. 99-603, 99-960, Supreme Court of the United States, July 17, 2000 

Williams v. Taylor, No. 99-6615, Supreme Court of the United States, December 23, 1999

Bryan v. Moore, No 99-6723, Supreme Court of the United States, December 20, 1999

Hurrell Harring v. State of New York, , 75 A.D. 3d 667 [2010]

State of Arizona v. Ring, 536 U.S. 584 [2002]

  STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee V. BRIAN JONES, Contemnor-Appellant

  RALPH BAZE, ET AL. Petitioners V. REES, Respondent (NO. 07-5439)


  1. Does the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibit means for carrying out a method of execution that create an unnecessary risk of pain and suffering as opposed to only a substantial risk of the wanton infliction of pain?
  2. Do the means for carrying out an execution cause an unnecessary risk of pain and suffering in violation of the Eighth Amendment upon a showing that readily available alternatives that pose less risk of pain and suffering could be used?
  3. Does the continued use of sodium thiopental, pancuronium bromide, and potassium chloride, individually or together, violate the cruel and unusual punishment clause of the Eighth Amendment because lethal injections can be carried out by using other chemicals that pose less risk of pain and suffering?

The amicus brief filed on behalf of the Stein Center addresses the history of execution methods generally and of the adoption of lethal injection in particularly. It demonstrates that although there is a societal consensus in favor of avoiding needlessly painful executions, the adoption of lethal injection was not preceded by medical study or reasoned discussion of the risk that it will cause needless agony, and that informed scrutiny continues to be hindered.

The case will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in early 2008.

  WALTER MICKENS, JR., Petitioner, V. JOHN B. TAYLOR, WARDEN, Respondent

Citation: 535 US 162, 122 SCt 1237 (2002)

Issue: The sole question presented was whether a defendant must show an actual conflict of interest and an adverse effect in order to establish a Sixth Amendment violation where the trial court failed to inquire into a potential conflict of interest about which it reasonably should have known.

In affirming the judgment the court stated: "Petitioner's proposed rule of automatic reversal when there existed a conflict that did not affect counsel's performance, but the trial judge failed to make the Sullivan-mandated inquiry, makes little policy sense. As discussed, the rule applied when the trial judge is not aware of the conflict (and thus not obligated to inquire) is that prejudice will be presumed only if the conflict has significantly affected counsel's performance--thereby rendering the verdict unreliable."

  LEGAL SERVICES CORPORATION, Petitioner, v. CARMEN VELAZQUEZ, et al., Respondents

Citation: 531 US 533, 121 SCt 1043 (2001)

Issue: Challenged the Legal Services Corporation's 1996 restrictions prohibiting LSC-funded lawyers from challenging state or federal welfare reform statutes or regulations on constitutional or other grounds. The amicus brief focused on the restrictions' effect on welfare recipients' access to legal services as well as the restriction's implications for lawyers' ethical responsibilities.

The case was decided February 28, 2001, at which time the Supreme Court found the restrictions to be unconstitutional.


Citation: 529 US 420, 120 SCt 1479 (2000)

Issue: One aspect of the case, addressed by the amicus brief, involved a question of government lawyers' ethics.

The amicus brief argued that the prosecutor had misconceived his professional obligations. Ultimately, the Court did not address the issue discussed in the amicus brief, but the death sentence was overturned on other grounds.

  ANTHONY BRADEN BRYAN, Petitioner, v. MICHAEL MOORE, Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections, Respondent

Citation: 528 US 1133, 120 SCt 1003 (2000)

Issue: Whether execution by electric chair constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

After the brief was filed, Florida amended its statute to provide for lethal injection as an alternative to electrocution, and the Court therefore dismissed the case as moot.