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Petitions to Watch | Conference of September 29, 2009 (Part I)

The first edition of “Petitions to Watch” for the October 2009 term features cases up for consideration at the Justices’ opening conference of September 29. Because of the great number of petitions to be considered, we’ll have multiple installations leading up to the “long conference.” As always, the list contains the petitions on the Court’s paid docket that Tom has deemed to have a reasonable chance of being granted.   Links to previous editions are also available in our archives on SCOTUSwiki.

Docket: 08-1048
Title: Marquardt v. Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
Issue: Whether a federal agency that has issued a final decision denying on the merits an employment discrimination complaint without addressing the timeliness of the administrative complaint may raise a timeliness defense after petitioner brings suit in federal district court.

Docket: 08-1103
Title: Michigan v. Williams
Issue: Do decisions holding that the direction of a verdict of acquittal by a trial judge, taking the case from the jury, based on an erroneous understanding of that which constitutes the elements of the offense, constitutes an acquittal barring retrial, conflict with United States v. Martin Linen Supply, and if not, should that case be reconsidered?

Docket: 08-1131
Title: Phon v. Kentucky
Issue: Whether a juvenile under the age of eighteen at the time of his offense is entitled to a new sentencing hearing in light of Roper v. Simmons, given that his original sentencing was premised on the theory that the death penalty was permissible and as such, the jury was instructed on the mitigating sentence of life without parole? Does the sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments?

Docket: 08-1159
Title: Texas v. Martinez
Issue: Whether the subjective intent of an interrogating officer is relevant to the analysis under Missouri v. Seibert when a suspect in custody discusses the case both before and after receiving Miranda warnings; whether statements uttered during the course of a pre-warning polygraph examination are material to the analysis under Missouri v. Seibert when a suspect in custody discusses the case both before and after receiving Miranda warnings; whether a magistrate’s issuance of Miranda warnings between a pre-warning polygraph examination at one location and a post-warning videotaped statement at another location operates as a sufficient break in continuity for the purposes of Missouri v. Seibert.

Docket: 08-1213 ; 08-1345
Title: Caruso v. Bazzetta ; Bazzetta v. Caruso
Issue: Whether a plaintiff in a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action may retain disputed interim attorney fees awarded during the pendency of the litigation when the plaintiff’s status as a “prevailing party” under 42 U.S.C. § 1988(b) is disputed.

Docket: 08-1232
Title: Carlyle Fortran Trust v. NVIDIA Corporation, et al.
Issue: Whether a trustee has standing to assert claims “on behalf of debenture holders” under Caplin v. Marine Midland Grace Trust Co. Whether the Second Circuit’s “Wagoner rule” should apply in the instant case. Does a landlord creditor have standing to pursue interference claims against a third party for causing the tenant debtor in bankruptcy to breach the lease or claims for lease damages? If a purchase and sale agreement provides that the buyer is purchasing certain assets listed in an exhibit to the agreement, is the buyer’s signature on the agreement alone sufficient to satisfy the statute of frauds (rather than requiring the buyer to sign the exhibit as well)? Does an E-mail from the buyer admitting that the buyer “bought” those assets satisfy the statute of frauds?

Docket: 08-1242
Title: Beard v. Bond
On federal habeas corpus review of the state court’s resolution of a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, did the court of appeals apply the “doubly deferential judicial review” standard required by Knowles v. Mirzayance?

Docket: 08-1263
Title: Wong v. Belmontes
Issue: Does the Sixth Amendment right to effective counsel in the penalty-phase of a capital trial require counsel to present and explain evidence in support of an alternative theory that is inconsistent with his client’s testimony and that would likely open the door to previously excluded evidence that the defendant had personally committed another murder?

Docket: 08-1283
Title: Choose Life Illinois, Incorporated, et al. v. White, Illinois Secretary of State
Issue: Whether a state’s refusal to approve a “Choose Life” specialty license plate is content rather than viewpoint discrimination and violates the First Amendment and whether a specialty license plate program that grants authority to approve or reject new messages on plates is not facially invalid under the First Amendment if it vests that licensing authority in a legislative body.

Cases involving lawyers from Akin Gump or Howe & Russell (listed without regard to likelihood of being granted):

Docket: 08-1287
Title: Family Dollar Stores, Inc. v. Morgan, et al.
Issue: Can a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act be maintained when the employer’s liability turns on a statutory exemption that must be litigated individually based on “all the facts in a particular case” (29 C.F.R. § 541.700(a))? [Howe & Russell represents the respondent.]