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Petitions to Watch | Conference of 1.22.10

This edition of “Petitions to Watch” features cases up for consideration at the Justices’ private conference on Friday, January 22.  As always, it lists the petitions on the Court’s paid docket that Tom has deemed to have a reasonable chance of being granted.  Links to all previous editions are available in our SCOTUSwiki archive.

Docket: 09-420
Title: Lewis v. City of West Palm Beach
Issues: Whether police officers using excessive force to detain a mentally disturbed person, who died as a result, are entitled to qualified immunity; (2) whether the Eleventh Circuit erred by requiring more than “fair warning” that the officers’ actions violated the Fourth Amendment in granting them qualified immunity for such an action; and (3) whether the City of West Palm Beach can be held liable for the failure to train police officers on the proper use of the device used to tie the detainee in this case.

Docket: 09-466; 09-479
Title: United States v. Williams; Abbott v. United States
Issues: From 09-466: Whether a defendant is subject to a mandatory consecutive sentence specified by 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) — for committing certain weapons offenses in connection with “any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime,” “[e]xcept to the extent that a greater minimum sentence is otherwise provided under this subsection, or by any other provision of law” — if he or she is also subject to a greater mandatory minimum sentence on a different count of conviction charging a different offense for different conduct.

From 09-479: (1) Whether the term “any other provision of law” of 18 U.S.C. 924(c) includes the underlying drug trafficking offense or crime of violence; and (2) if not, whether it includes another offense for possessing the same firearm in the same transaction?

For 09-466:

For 09-479:

Note: 09-466 was relisted for this conference after consideration at the January 8 conference, and it therefore appears also in this earlier edition of Petitions to Watch.

Docket: 09-480
Title: Hensley v. United States
Issue: Whether a sentencing judge may, consistent with the Ex Post Facto Clause, employ the version of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual in effect at the time of sentencing even though it produces a longer sentence calculation than the Guidelines Manual in effect when the offense was committed.

Docket: 09-490
Title: Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories
Issue: Whether 35 U.S.C. § 101 is satisfied by a patent claim that covers observed correlations between patient test results and patient health, so that the claim effectively preempts all uses of these naturally occurring correlations.

Docket: 09-612
Title: King v. Pfeiffer
Issues: (1) Whether the denial of substantive review to a parent litigating pro se violates due process and equal protection when an inferior state court effectively terminated that parent’s parental rights and made de novo appeal of right effectively unavailable to her; (2) whether a state’s termination of a German-American child’s contact with her mother, without any evidentiary record or substantive de novo appellate review of right, denies that child her right to due process, equal protection and free speech; and (3) whether such termination is a denial of the child’s basic human rights, as set forth under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child?

Docket: 09-704
Title: Cornwell v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue
Issues: (1) Whether IRS Appeals Officers holding hearings and issuing determinations in excess of powers granted Tax Court Special Trial Judges in Collection Due Process hearings are “Officers of the United States” who must be appointed under the Appointments Clause of the Constitution; and (2) when the standard of review is abuse of discretion, whether a uniform rule for the introduction of evidence before the Tax Court is appropriate.

Note: The respondents have not as yet filed a brief in opposition in this case.

The following cases have been re-listed for the January 22 conference from previous editions of Petitions to Watch: