Rodney Reed Secures Supreme Court Win in Capital Case

On April 19, a Skadden team secured a U.S. Supreme Court victory on behalf of longtime pro bono client Rodney Reed, a Texas death row inmate who has long claimed his innocence. The cert petition, granted in April 2022, sought review of whether the statute of limitations for a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim seeking DNA testing of crime-scene evidence begins to run at the end of state-court litigation denying DNA testing, including any appeals, or the moment the state trial court denies DNA testing, despite any subsequent appeal. Led by Supreme Court and appellate litigation counsel Parker Rider-Longmaid, who presented oral argument before the Court, litigation partner Cliff Gardner, and associate Michelle Davis, the Skadden team argued that the statute of limitations for a § 1983 suit begins to run at the end of state-court litigation. The Supreme Court held the same. Justice Kavanaugh authored the 6-3 majority opinion and was joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, Barrett, and Jackson.

The Court’s ruling is a significant victory in Mr. Reed’s two-decades-long fight to prove his innocence, as well as for other incarcerated people with innocence claims hinging on DNA-testing access.