Breaking News

Petitions to Watch | Conference of 6.10.10

This edition of “Petitions to Watch” features cases up for consideration at the Justices’ private conference tomorrow, Thursday, June 10.  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: Arar v. Ashcroft
Docket: 09-923
Issues: (1) Whether federal officials accused of conspiring with foreign officials to subject an individual in U.S. custody to torture may be sued for damages, particularly when the federal officials also intentionally obstructed the victim’s access to the judicial remedy provided by Congress to prevent torture; (2) whether willful participation in joint action with government officials is insufficient to constitute action under “color of law” of that jurisdiction, within the meaning of the Torture Victim Protection Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1350, when defendants are alleged to have conspired with Syrian officials to have petitioner tortured in Syria; and (3) whether petitioner’s Bivens claim for obstruction of access to court may be dismissed on the ground that he did not sufficiently identify the particular defendants who took part in blocking his access to court.

Title: Parlak v. Holder
Docket: 09-992
Issue: Whether the Sixth Circuit erred under the “ordinary remand rule” — which provides that a court of appeals which finds error must generally remand to the relevant agency for further consideration — when it did not remand this case to the Board of Immigration Appeals after finding that the agency had applied an incorrect legal standard in determining whether the “persecutor bar” of 8 U.S.C. § 1231(b)(3)(B)(i) precluded withholding of removal.

Title: Matrixx Initiatives, Inc. v. Siracusano
Docket: 09-1156
Issue: Whether a plaintiff can state a claim under § 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act and SEC Rule 10b-5 based on a pharmaceutical company’s nondisclosure of “adverse event” reports even though the reports are not alleged to be statistically significant.

Case 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: CSX Transportation, Inc. v. Alabama Department of Revenue
Docket: 09-520
Issue: Whether a state’s exemption of railroad competitors, but not railroads, from a generally applicable sales and use tax is subject to challenge as “another tax that discriminates against a rail carrier” under Section 306(1)(d) of the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976, 49 U.S.C. § 11501(b)(4).

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

Title: Pendergrass v. Indiana
Docket: 09-866
Issue: Whether the Confrontation Clause permits the prosecution to introduce DNA profiles created by polymerase chain reaction and vertical gel electrophoresis, as recorded by a non-testifying lab analyst and a computer, through the testimony of the analyst’s supervisor and a forensic DNA expert.

Title: California State Republican Legislator Intervenors v. Plata; Schwarzenegger v. Plata
Docket: 09-1232; 09-1233
Issues: (1) Whether the three-judge court below properly determined that crowding was the “primary cause” of continuing violations of prisoners’ constitutional rights to adequate health care, and that no remedy existed other than issuance of a Prisoner Release Order pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3626; (2) whether the system-wide Prisoner Release Orders issued by the three-judge court are “narrowly drawn, extend no further than necessary to correct the violation of the Federal right, and [are] the least intrusive means necessary to correct the violation of the Federal right” in compliance with the PLRA, 18 U.S.C. § 3626(a)(1)(A); and (3) whether the same court properly gave ”substantial weight to any adverse impact on public safety or the operation of a criminal justice system” in ordering a reduction in population of approximately 46,000 inmates.

[Note: The two cases listed above are jurisdictional statements rather than petitions.]

[Disclosure: Akin Gump is involved in 09-1232.]

If any petitions from previous editions of Petitions to Watch are redistributed for this conference between now and Thursday, we will list them below.