The latest edition of “Petitions to Watch” features cases up for consideration at the Justices’ private conference of January 4, 2008. As always, the list reflects the petitions on the Court’s "paid’ docket that Tom has deemed to have a reasonable chance of being granted.

Questions raised in the current list of petitions include whether states may impose the death penalty for child rape, whether genetically modified soybeans can be limited to one planting season, whether seeking discretionary state court review tolls the AEDPA filing deadline, and whether failing to return to a work release program is a violent felony under the Armed Career Criminal Act. For the full list of petitions on our watch list, continue reading after the jump.

Conference of January 4, 2008

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Docket: 06-1188
Case name: Teck Cominco Metals v. Pakootas
Issue: Whether, under CERCLA, parties can be held liable for disposing hazardous materials abroad that subsequently enter the United States, or for having “arranged” for such disposal if not other party was involved. (Disclosure: Akin Gump represents amici Canadian Chamber of Commerce.)

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Docket: 07-61
Case name: Mathias v. United States
Issue: Whether an escape conviction following a failure to return to a work release program is a violent felony for purposes of the Armed Career Criminal Act. (Note: similar issues are presented in No. 06-10751, Golden v. United States, and No. 06-11206, Chambers v. United States.)

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Docket: 07-189
Case name: Kahle v. Mukasey
Issue: Whether, under Eldred v. Ashcroft (2003), Congress altered the “traditional contours of copyright protection” by permitting automatic extension of copyrights.

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Docket: 07-210
Case name: John Bridge v. Phoenix Bond & Indemnity Co., et al.
Issue: Whether plaintiffs who did not rely on but were nonetheless harmed by false statements made to third parties can establish proximate cause in a civil RICO action.

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Docket: 07-241
Case name: McFarling v. Monsanto
Issue: Whether patent law permits companies that produce genetically modified seeds to limit their use to one planting season and, if so, whether a jury may punish violation of such an agreement by awarding a “hypothetical” royalty based on the savings gained by the planter.

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Docket: 07-343
Case name: Kennedy v. Louisiana
Issue: Whether the Eighth Amendment bar on cruel and unusual punishment prohibits capital punishment for the crime of child rape.

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Docket: 07-421
Case name: WKB Associates v. Fair Housing Council
Issue: Whether pre-litigation expenses incurred while investigating potential Fair Housing Act violations satisfy the injury component of Article III standing, and whether the statute of limitations under the Act runs from the sale date of each unit or the final unit in a housing development.

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Docket: 07-452
Case name: Schriro v. Lambright
Issue: Whether, under Tennard v. Dretke (2001), a court may consider the lack of any causal connection between potential mitigating evidence and the crime in determining whether the failure to introduce the evidence prejudiced the defendant.

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Docket: 07-478
Case name: Hartmann v. Burris
Issue: Whether seeking discretionary state court review of a criminal conviction tolls the one year filing requirement under AEDPA.

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Docket: 07-552
Case name: Sprint Communications Company, et al. v. APCC Services
Issue: Whether a plaintiff assigned the right to pursue a legal claim, but which stands to gain no proceeds from the outcome of the litigation, has established standing under Article III. (Disclosure: Akin Gump represents the petitioner.)

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Docket: 07-587
Case name: Covenant Media of South Carolina, LLC v. City of North Charleston (S.C.)
Issue: Whether a restricting billboard ordinance without a judicial review mechanism violates the First Amendment.

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