This edition of "Petitions to Watch" features cases up for consideration at the justices' private conference today, April 16.  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.

Title: Schramm v. LaHood
Docket: 09-440
Issues: (1) What standard governs the determination as to whether a judgment or order has been adequately designated by a notice of appeal under Rule 3(c)(1)(B) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure; and (2) whether the standard governing when an employer is vicariously liable for unlawful retaliation under Title VII is different when the victim is a former employee rather than a current employee.

Title: Browning v. United States
Docket: 09-583
Issue: Whether, in a discrimination case tried by a jury, the trial judge should, if requested to do so, instruct the jury that it may infer the existence of a discriminatory motive from the falsity of a defendant's explanation of its action.

Title: Wolfchild v. United States; Zephier v. United States
Docket: 09-579; 09-580
Issues: (1) Whether federal court subject matter jurisdiction exists over Native American beneficiary claims of purported federal government violations of the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act or other applicable federal statutes when post-1934 IRA non-tribal community governments are involved; (2) whether the Federal Circuit's holding of “statutory use restrictions” in congressional appropriation acts establishing statutory obligations on the United States, but no “trust,” departs from applicable statutory interpretation and trust principles; and (3) whether the Federal Circuit's holding that a 1980 Congressional Act terminated a trust was impermissible given that the court failed to consider the 1934 IRA's extension of all Native American trusts under 25 U.S.C. § 462 and failed to apply the “clear and unambiguous requirement” for a trust termination act.

Title: Arambula-Medina v. Holder
Docket: 09-664
Issue: Whether the courts of appeals have jurisdiction to review “streamlining” decisions made by members of the Board of Immigration Appeals pursuant to 8 C.F.R. § 1003.1(e).

Title: Banks v. Thaler
Docket: 09-717
Issue: Whether a meritorious Brady claim exists in a capital case when: (a) the Supreme Court has determined that the prosecution's suppression of a pretrial statement prevented the defense from discrediting the prosecution's key guilt-phase witness; (b) the prosecutors acted deliberately, did not correct three perjurious statements by this witness, and urged jurors to find all of this witness's testimony truthful; and (c) the prosecution also suppressed another important witness's paid informant status and failed to correct his false statements.

Title: Minnesota v. Russell
Docket: 09-781
Issue: Whether a defendant’s identity can be suppressed when the police stopped him, later obtained a search warrant for his DNA, and discovered that it matched the predominant DNA profile found on the gun that he was ultimately convicted of possessing.

Title: Norfolk Southern Railway Company v. Jordan
Docket: 09-788
Issue: Whether the Federal Employers' Liability Act implicitly abrogates the ordinary standards for proving negligence.

Title: Zagorski v. Bell
Docket: 09-790
Issues: (1) Whether a “security” justification for abusive pretrial confinement precludes, as a matter of law, a determination that the circumstances of confinement impermissibly coerced the making of custodial statements; and (2) whether a defendant's initiation of contact with police per se establishes the admissibility of his statements, or whether the court must consider the totality of the circumstances in determining whether inculpatory statements made by the defendant were voluntary.

Title: United States v. Tohono O’odham Nation
Docket: 09-846
Issue: Whether 28 U.S.C. § 1500 — which precludes jurisdiction by the Court of Federal Claims (CFC) over “any claim for or in respect to which the plaintiff has any suit or process against the United States” or its agents “pending in any other court” – deprives the CFC of jurisdiction over a claim seeking monetary relief for the government's alleged violation of fiduciary obligations if the plaintiff has another suit pending in federal district court based on substantially the same operative facts, especially when the plaintiff seeks monetary relief or other overlapping relief in the two suits.

Title: Jaskolski v. Daniels
Docket: 09-946
Issues: (1) Whether the court below erred in holding that one of the petitioners was an “independent contractor” rather than an “employee of the government,” such that the United States had no authority to supervise or control the manner in which he interrogated federal grand jury witnesses, reviewed grand jury materials, or managed documents or witnesses at a federal criminal trial; and (2) whether the same court erred by including in the definition of “employee of the government” the additional burden of proving that the federal government “pressed [the petitioner] into service” or “required” him to act.

Note: The United States, another respondent in this case, waived the right to file a response.

Cases in which the United States recently filed an amicus brief in response to the Court's call for the views of the Solicitor General:

Title: Costco v. Omega
Docket: 08-1423
Issue: Whether the first-sale doctrine applies to imported goods manufactured abroad.

Title: Staub v. Proctor Hospital
Docket: 09-400
Issue: In what circumstances may an employer be held liable based on the unlawful intent of officials who caused or influenced but did not make the ultimate employment decision?

NOTE: This post originally also included the petitions Sossamon v. Texas (08-1438) and Cardinal v. Metrish (09-109), which were removed from the April 16 conference list.

To our knowledge, the Court has re-listed just the following case from previous editions of Petitions to Watch for the conference of April 16:

Posted in Cases in the Pipeline