On December 11, 2013, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in White v. Woodall. The case presents two questions: (1) Whether the Sixth Circuit violated the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act by granting habeas relief because a Kentucky trial court refused to issue an instruction to the jury telling it not to draw adverse inferences from the defendant's silence at the sentencing phase in a death penalty case, even though no Supreme Court precedent establishes that such an instruction must be given at the penalty phase when a non-testifying defendant has pled guilty to the crimes and aggravating circumstances; and (2) whether the Sixth Circuit violated the harmless error standard in Brecht v. Abrahamson in ruling that the absence of a no adverse inference instruction was not harmless in spite of overwhelming evidence of guilt and in the face of a guilty pleas to the crimes and aggravators.

To discuss the case, we have Robert Blecker who is a Professor of Law at the New York Law School.

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