Political News

Supreme Court won't take up Rodney Reed appeal

Posted February 24, 2020 10:02 a.m. EST

— The Supreme Court said Monday it will not take up an appeal from death row inmate Rodney Reed, who is challenging his sentence based in part on the fact that Texas relied on evidence that was later proven to be scientifically invalid.

Reed was sentenced to death more than 20 years ago for the assault, rape and strangling of 19-year-old Stacey Stites. But his attorneys with the Innocence Project say they have evidence that could exonerate him.

Reed's death sentence is currently on hold due to separate state proceedings.

Writing separately, Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted that Reed has "presented a substantial body of evidence" that she said "if true" casts doubt on the "veracity of scientific validity of the evidence."

Lower courts are still considering separate claims, Sotomayor said, adding that the court's action on Monday should not "close the door" on future review of the case.

"I remain hopeful that available state processes will take care to ensure full and fair consideration of Reed's innocence," she wrote.

"Because the litigation is still proceeding in lower courts, Justice Sotomayor agreed that the Supreme Court shouldn't step in at this point," said Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law. "But her opinion is an effort to send a message to those courts about just how serious she thinks Reed's claims are -- and just how carefully she thinks the lower courts should consider them."

The case has united lawmakers, religious leaders, and celebrities such as Kim Kardashian West and Rihanna in Reed's defense.

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