Editor's Note :

Editor's Note :

On Wednesday the court hears oral argument in Sandoz Inc. v. Amgen Inc. John Duffy has our preview.
On Wednesday the court also hears oral argument in Maslenjak v. United States. Amy Howe has our preview.

Petition of the day

By on Apr 25, 2017 at 11:23 pm

The petition of the day is:

16-1009

Issue: What is the standard by which appellate courts review a trial court’s holding that a defendant voluntarily consented to a warrantless search for Fourth Amendment purposes.

Today the Supreme Court held that the sovereign immunity of Indian tribes does not extend to suits against tribal employees when the employee, instead of the tribe, is the “real party in interest.”

Lewis v. Clarke involved a run-of-the-mill car accident: The plaintiffs, Brian and Michelle Lewis, citizens of Connecticut, were driving on an interstate highway outside the boundaries of the Mohegan Reservation when they were rear-ended by the defendant, William Clarke, also a citizen of Connecticut. Clarke was an employee of the Mohegan Tribe, however, and the accident occurred while he was driving customers to the tribe’s casino.

Justice Sotomayor with opinion of the court (Art Lien)

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Argument transcripts

By on Apr 25, 2017 at 2:56 pm

The transcript in Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, San Francisco County is here; the transcript in BNSF Railway Co. v. Tyrrell is here.

Posted in Merits Cases
 
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The Supreme Court seemed ready to hand a victory to railroad company BNSF in a lawsuit brought by two of the company’s injured workers. A solid majority of the justices appeared unconvinced that the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, a federal law that allows railroad workers to sue their employers for injuries that occur on the job, allows the workers to sue the company – which is incorporated in Delaware and has its principal place of business in Texas – in Montana, even though neither worker lived in Montana or was injured there.

Arguing for BNSF, attorney Andrew Tulumello told the justices that the Montana state court’s decision allowing the case against the railroad to go forward was flatly wrong. Under the Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in Daimler AG v. Bauman, he contended, the Montana courts could not have jurisdiction over the injured workers’ lawsuits because the railroad was not “at home” in Montana.

Andrew S. Tulumello for petitioner (Art Lien)

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It’s the penultimate day of arguments in this modest term, and after issuing its opinion in Lewis v. Clarke (about tribal sovereign immunity) and conducting bar admissions, the court is just a few minutes into the oral argument in Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California (about personal jurisdiction).

And then … a cellphone ringtone goes off. The Supreme Court police department has been especially vigilant in keeping visitors from bringing such devices into the courtroom since a couple of high-profile protests involving hidden pen cameras in recent years.

But cellphones do occasionally end up in the ornate courtroom and announce themselves. Today, the culprit is a 23-year veteran of the bench. Justice Stephen Breyer looks a bit sheepish as he maneuvers to silence his phone’s lively chime.

Breyer’s cell phone goes off during arguments (Art Lien)

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It probably was not a good sign for Houston criminal-defense attorney Seth Kretzer, arguing yesterday on behalf of petitioner Erick Davila in Davila v. Davis, when, early in his opening presentation, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suggested that the court could decide the case on narrower grounds than those presented in his petition – by ruling that his client’s claim that his direct appellate counsel provided ineffective assistance was meritless. Kretzer did his best to persuade the justices that they should indeed reach the question presented, that is, whether a prisoner’s failure to raise the ineffectiveness of his direct appellate counsel in a collateral state post-conviction proceeding can be excused by the ineffectiveness of the post-conviction lawyer. But there seemed to be few takers across the bench for Kretzer’s argument that the Supreme Court should extend its 2012 decision in Martinez v. Ryan and answer that question in the affirmative. Indeed, if the justices are inclined to reach the question presented, it seemed clear by the end of Monday’s 59-minute argument that they would likely resolve it in favor of the respondent, Lorie Davis, director of the Correctional Institutions Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Seth Kretzer for petitioner (Art Lien)

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We live-blogged this morning as the court issues opinions. The transcript is available at this link.

Posted in Live
 
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Tuesday round-up

By on Apr 25, 2017 at 6:39 am

Today the court hears oral argument in two cases. First up is Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, San Francisco County, another civil procedure case involving a court’s specific jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants sued by out-of-state plaintiffs. Ronald Mann previewed the case for this blog. [Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, is among the counsel to the respondents in this case.] Andrew Maury and Eugene Temchenko preview the case for Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute. The second argument today of the day is BNSF Railway Co. v. Tyrrell, in which the justices will consider the contours of personal jurisdiction for lawsuits brought under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act. Amy Howe had this blog‘s preview. Karen Smeda and Natalia San Juan preview the case for Cornell. At the Cato Institute’s Cato at Liberty blog, Walter Olson argues that today’s cases offer the court an opportunity to draw lines that will enable “the federal judiciary to police overreaching by state courts in their jurisdictional claims.”

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Posted in Round-up
 
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Petition of the day

By on Apr 24, 2017 at 11:23 pm

The petition of the day is:

16-1003

Issues: (1) Whether, viewing the facts from the petitioner’s perspective, he acted reasonably, under the Fourth Amendment, in firing in self defense, when an officer in his situation would believe that the suspect was armed, was suspected of a violent crime, refused to show his concealed hand, refused commands, and came at the officer; and (2) whether the petitioner was entitled to qualified immunity, when existing precedent did not clearly establish that the use of deadly force was unlawful under the particular situation faced by the officer, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit’s analysis contravened the U.S. Supreme Court’s explicit directions.

 
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[Note: This post was updated to report on the execution of Jack Jones and to add additional information about the case of Marcel Williams, including the Supreme Court’s denial of his application for a stay of execution, the district court’s temporary stay, the lifting of that stay, and Williams’ execution.]

Less than 12 hours after a Texas death row inmate found apparently sympathetic ears for his plea that he was entitled to have assistance from his own psychiatrist at his trial, the Supreme Court turned down a request by an Arkansas inmate to put his execution, one of two scheduled for tonight at a prison in southeast Arkansas, on hold.

Inmate Jack Jones was scheduled to die at 7 pm local time for the brutal robbery, rape and strangulation of Mary Phillips. Jones argued that subjecting him to the state’s lethal injection protocol would violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment because he suffers from diabetes and hypertension and has taken several medications for his chronic pain. The net effect of these chronic conditions, he contended, is that “he is likely to be either not rendered unconscious and thus suffer a painful death,” or he will “be left alive but brain damaged.” Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the only justice to dissent publicly from the court’s denial of a stay. Jones was pronounced dead at 7:20 pm local time.

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