Petition of the day

By on Sep 10, 2014 at 10:10 pm

The petition of the day is:

Williams v. Hastings
13-1221

Issue: Whether and under what circumstances a federal prisoner may use 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e) to seek relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 when an intervening and retroactively applicable statutory decision of this Court demonstrates that his sentence his unlawful.

Matching the speed of lawyers and lower courts in handling the same-sex marriage controversy, the Supreme Court on Wednesday set the stage for its first look at all of the pending cases, when the Justices assemble on September 29 for a private Conference.

Seven petitions — three from Virginia, and one each from Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wisconsin — will be submitted to the Justices at that session.  There is, of course, no certainty that they will act on any or all of them at that point, but the option is there.  With all sides agreeing that the time to rule is now, it would be a surprise if the Court opted to bypass the issue altogether in its new Term.

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This is the second installment of “Petitions to watch” featuring cases up for consideration at the Court’s September 29 “Long Conference.”  Because the Court has not considered new petitions since the end of June, the number of petitions slated for review at the September 29 Conference is quite large – more than at any other Conference of the year. Therefore, we are posting our list of petitions to watch at the “Long Conference” in three separate installments. This second installment includes petitions seeking review of issues such as the jurisdiction of tribal courts to adjudicate civil tort claims against non-members, disparate-impact claims under the Fair Housing Act, and the dismissal of a lawsuit as a “strike” under the Prison Litigation Reform Act.  The first installment is available here.

This edition of “Petitions to watch” features 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.  Our policy is to include and disclose all cases in which Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, represents either a party or an amicus in the case, with the exception of the rare cases in which Goldstein & Russell represents the respondent(s) but does not appear on the briefs in the case.

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Wednesday round-up

By on Sep 10, 2014 at 7:42 am

Yesterday Indiana and Wisconsin both filed petitions asking the Court to review a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit striking down their respective bans on same-sex marriage.  Lyle covered the filings for this blog; other coverage comes from Lauren Raab of the Los Angeles Times and Tim Evans of the Indianapolis Star (via USA Today). Continue reading »

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Petition of the day

By on Sep 9, 2014 at 10:10 pm

The petition of the day is:

Alger v. California
13-1102

Issue: (1) Whether petitioner’s Confrontation Clause rights were violated when the state failed to call an available medical expert who had not previously been cross-examined to testify in a murder trial and instead called a medical examiner as a percipient scientific witness who was not involved in the autopsy and entered the autopsy report into evidence where the main issue in the case is manner of death; (2) whether, when an autopsy report is entered into evidence and the person who drafted the report is available, but not called and was not previously cross-examined, the autopsy is testimonial and its admission into evidence therefore violates petitioner’s Confrontation Clause rights; (3) whether the trial court erred in using the standard under People v. Marsden to decide whether petitioner could replace his public defender with privately retained counsel.

UPDATED 6:31 p.m.  All of today’s filings in the two cases have now been linked.

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With lawyers moving very rapidly, the number of appeals to the Supreme Court on same-sex marriage rose on Tuesday to seven, as state officials in Indiana and Wisconsin separately challenged a federal appeals court ruling against their bans, and lawyers for the couples planned to file immediate replies.  The new cases landed at the Court five days after that decision; the states had the option of taking ninety days to file.

Along with the two new filings, the Court has awaiting it individual petitions on the issue from Oklahoma and Utah and three from Virginia.  In all of the cases, both sides and a lengthening list of “friends of the Court” have agreed that the Court should take on the constitutional controversy now.  The Court may indicate as early as tomorrow which of the seven cases, if any, will be considered by the Justices at their first Conference of the new Term, on September 29.

The Indiana petition is here, the couples’ response to that petition is here, the Wisconsin filing is here, and the couples’ response to that petition is here.

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For the past fourteen years, the Supreme Court has spent a good deal of time and energy sorting out the constitutional roles of judges and juries in the system of punishment for federal crimes.  The process has made even more puzzling an already complex array of federal sentencing guidelines.

The Court is now being asked to reopen this challenging controversy at a very basic level:  is it unconstitutional for a judge to impose a sentence that goes beyond the facts that the jury found in a partial verdict of guilty, so long as the judge stays within the guideline ceilings?  Does that undermine the jury’s role under the Sixth Amendment?

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Tuesday round-up

By on Sep 9, 2014 at 8:25 am

Briefly:

  • At Education Week’s School Law blog, Mark Walsh reports on the death of Lillian Gobitas Klose, who as a child unsuccessfully challenged mandatory participation in the Pledge of Allegiance at school.
  • At Re’s Judicata, Richard Re considers the prospect that – if it continues last Term’s past practice of granting a petition only after relisting it at least once – the Court might not grant any new cases after the September 29 “Long Conference.”

A friendly reminder:  We rely on our readers to send us links for the round-up.  If you have or know of a recent (published in the last two or three days) article, post, or op-ed relating to the Court that you’d like us to consider for inclusion in the round-up, please send it to roundup [at] scotusblog.com. 

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Petition of the day

By on Sep 8, 2014 at 10:11 pm

The petition of the day is:

Chappell v. Ayala
13-1428

Issue: Whether a state court’s rejection of a claim of federal constitutional error on the ground that any error, if one occurred, was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt is an “adjudicat[ion] on the merits” within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), so that a federal court may set aside the resulting final state conviction only if the defendant can satisfy the restrictive standards imposed by that provision.

When Congress comes back into session this week, among the unfinished business is the question of what to do about a number of Supreme Court rulings from the spring.

Although the most likely answer is that the deeply politically divided Congress will do nothing at all about recent Supreme Court decisions, the question raises important issues about the constitutional relationship between the Court and the legislative branch and the current health of the system of checks and balances.

The authority of the Court to strike down acts of Congress as unconstitutional goes back at least to 1803 and Marbury v. Madison, a case studied by most law students in their classes on constitutional law.  Just how that process of judicial review works today, and how Congress responds, is a subject that should interest students of constitutional law, legislation, federal courts, and other subjects. Continue reading »

 
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