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Petitions to Watch | Conference of 5.27.10

This edition of “Petitions to Watch” features cases up for consideration at the Justices’ private conference tomorrow, Thursday, May 27.  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: Basham v. United States
Docket: 09-617
Issues: (1) Whether the jury foreperson’s conduct during the penalty phase of a capital trial – which included calling three local television stations and two newspapers, seeking more publicity about the case, expressing “concern” and “fear” that her fellow jurors would not impose the death penalty, and requesting an on-camera interview after the verdict was returned – was a structural error that requires a new sentencing hearing without an independent showing of prejudice; (2) whether the prosecution properly was required, but failed, to overcome a presumption of prejudice when the jury foreperson engaged in such conduct; and (3) whether the district court improperly restricted investigation into phone calls that the jury foreperson made during trial to two other jurors, some of which occurred after the foreperson called five media outlets, because that type of inquiry might reveal “romantic relationships” between jurors.

Title: R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company v. Montana
Docket: 09-911
Issue: Whether the Montana Supreme Court violated the Federal Arbitration Act by refusing to compel arbitration of a dispute between tobacco companies and settling states that courts of other states and territories have held arbitrable under the plain terms of the nationwide Master Settlement Agreement.

Title: Keith v. Ohio
Docket: 09-1052
Issue: Whether, when a defendant sentenced to death has discovered evidence of his innocence that was withheld, a state court may deny relief to him by relying on the sufficiency of the evidence presented at trial.

Title: City of Los Angeles v. Kern County
Docket: 09-1111
Issue: Whether an in-state plaintiff lacks prudential standing under the “zone of interest” test to assert a dormant Commerce Clause challenge to a local ordinance that impedes the flow of commerce.

The Court has re-listed the following cases from previous editions of Petitions to Watch for the conference of May 27.  If any other petitions are redistributed between now and the conference, we will add them below as soon as their redistribution is noted on the docket.