This edition of “Petitions to watch” features cases up for consideration at the Justices' June 16 Conference.  These are petitions raising issues that Tom has determined to have a reasonable chance of being granted, although we post them here without consideration of whether they present appropriate vehicles in which to decide those issues.

PPL Montana, LLC v. Montana (Granted )

Docket: 10-218
Issue(s): Whether the constitutional test for determining whether a section of a river is navigable for title purposes requires a trial court to determine, based on evidence, whether the relevant stretch of the river was navigable at the time the state joined the Union.

Certiorari stage documents:

CVSG Information:

Zuress v. Donley

Note: Goldstein, Howe & Russell represents the petitioner in this case, which is listed without regard to its likelihood of being granted.
Docket: 10-374
Issue(s): In what circumstances are dual-status technicians, who perform civilian roles within military departments, protected by federal statutes prohibiting employment discrimination?

Certiorari stage documents:

Applera Corp. v. Enzo Biochem, Inc.

Docket: 10-426
Issue(s): Whether the Federal Circuit's standard for finding that a patent’s claims are “definite,” which is met as long as the language of a claim is not “insolubly ambiguous” or is capable of being construed, is consistent with the language of 35 U.S.C. § 112, which provides that the patent must include “claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matter which the applicant regards as his invention.”

Certiorari stage documents:

CVSG Information:

Wetherill v. McHugh

Docket: 10-638
Issue(s): Whether the claims of a dual-status National Guard technician alleging employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are jurisdictionally barred by the doctrine of Feres v. United States and its progeny?

Certiorari stage documents:

First American Financial v. Edwards (Granted )

Docket: 10-708
Issue(s): Whether a private purchaser of real estate settlement services has standing to sue under Article III, § 2 of the United States Constitution.

Certiorari stage documents:

CVSG Information:

Miccosukee Tribe v. Kraus-Anderson Construction Co.

Docket: 10-717
Issue(s): Whether an action to obtain recognition of an Indian tribal court judgment presents a federal question under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

Certiorari stage documents:

CVSG Information:

Witt v. United States

Docket: 10-885
Issue(s): Should the Feres doctrine be overruled, in whole or in part, on the ground that the Federal Tort Claims Act should not be construed to include a non-textual exception barring claims for injuries arising out of activity incident to service or, if there is such an exception, it does not bar a claim for injury to a service member caused by medical malpractice at a military hospital when the service member was on leave when admitted to the hospital?

Certiorari stage documents:

Ochoa v. Holder

Docket: 10-920
Issue(s): (1) Whether federal courts are categorically incompetent to review a Board of Immigration Appeals decision denying a motion to reopen removal proceedings sua sponte, even where that decision applies a legal standard, on the ground that such decisions are "committed to agency discretion by law"; and (2) whether the court of appeals erred by disregarding the BIA’s stated grounds for its decision, in conflict with SEC v. Chenery Corp. (1943) and the decisions of other circuits.

Certiorari stage documents:

Yankton Sioux Tribe v. Daugaard

Docket: 10-1058
Issue(s): Whether the Yankton Sioux Reservation includes all lands within its original boundaries other than those the Tribe ceded to the United States for sale to non-Indians in the Act of 1894.

Certiorari stage documents:

Yankton Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Docket: 10-1059
Issue(s): The court of appeals held in this case that land transfers by the United States Army Corps of Engineers to the State of South Dakota pursuant to the Water Resources Development Act of 1999 did not violate §§ 605(b)(3) and (c)(1)(B) of that Act because they did not include lands within the “external boundaries” of the Yankton Sioux Reservation. The petitions and conditional cross-petition for a writ of certiorari in Nos. 10-929, 10-931, and 10-932 concern the boundaries of that reservation. The question presented is whether to hold this petition and then dispose of it as appropriate in light of the Court's disposition of those other petitions.

Certiorari stage documents:

ACORN v. United States

Docket: 10-1068
Issue(s): Does a congressional ban on federal funds and contracting to one specific, named corporation and all of its subsidiaries, affiliates and undefined “allied corporations” constitute a Bill of Attainder in the circumstances presented by this case?

Certiorari stage documents:

Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc. (Granted )

Docket: 10-1150
Issue(s): Whether 35 U.S.C. § 101 is satisfied by a patent claim that covers observed correlations between blood test results and patient health, so that the claim effectively preempts all uses of the naturally occurring correlations, simply because well-known methods used to administer prescription drugs and test blood may involve transformations of body chemistry.

Certiorari stage documents:

Wyeth LLC et al. v. Scofield

Docket: 10-1177
Issue(s): (1) Whether, when a verdict has been tainted by a jury's passion or prejudice, due process requires a trial court to grant a new trial instead of remittitur; and (2) whether, and in what circumstances, a trial court violates due process when it awards a substantial amount in compensatory damages but nevertheless proceeds to award punitive damages in an amount exceeding the one-to-one ratio indicated in State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Campbell, 538 U.S. 408 (2003), and Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, 554 U.S. 471 (2008).

Certiorari stage documents:

Coble v. Texas

Docket: 10-1271
Issue(s): (1) Whether the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals improperly extended Barefoot v. Estelle by reading that case as categorically foreclosing any claim that the admission of unreliable expert testimony in a particular case violates the federal Constitution; and (2) whether the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals undercut Jurek v. Texas by abandoning the consideration of future dangerousness and retroactively replacing it with a dangerous-character test.

Certiorari stage documents:

The following petitions have been re-listed for the Conference of June 16.  If any other paid petitions are re-distributed for this Conference, we will add them below as soon as their re-distribution is noted on the docket.

Messerschmidt v. Millender (Granted )

Docket: 10-704
Issue(s): (1) Whether police officers are entitled to qualified immunity when they obtained a facially valid warrant to search for firearms, firearm-related materials, and gang-related items in the residence of a gang member and felon who had threatened to kill his girlfriend and fired a sawed-off shotgun at her? (2) Whether United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897 (1984), and Malley v. Briggs, 475 U.S. 335 (1986), should be reconsidered or clarified?

Certiorari stage documents:

Cavazos v. Smith

Docket: 10-1115
Issue(s): Did the Ninth Circuit on second remand from this Court exceed its authority under the deferential standard for habeas corpus review in 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) by granting relief for insufficient evidence based on its acceptance of the cause-of-death testimony of defense experts over the contrary opinion testimony of prosecution experts?

Certiorari stage documents:

Knox v. Service Employees Int’l Union, Local 1000 (Granted )

Docket: 10-1121
Issue(s): (1) May a state, consistent with the First and Fourteenth Amendments, condition employment on the payment of a special union assessment intended solely for political and ideological expenditures without first providing a notice that includes information about that assessment and provides an opportunity to object to its exaction? (2) May a state, consistent with the First and Fourteenth Amendments, condition continued public employment on the payment of union agency fees for purposes of financing political expenditures for ballot measures?

Certiorari stage documents:

Posted in Cases in the Pipeline, Featured

Recommended Citation: Christa Culver, Petitions to watch | Conference of 06.16.11, SCOTUSblog (Jun. 15, 2011, 11:22 AM), http://www.scotusblog.com/2011/06/petitions-to-watch-conference-of-06-16-11/