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Relist Watch

John Elwood reviews Monday’s relisted cases.

Behold, ye merry readers, we bring you tidings of comfort and joy: the penultimate relist watch before the holiday break!  Cue the dancers! And prancers! And vixen!

First, for the boys and girls on the naughty list, the Court doled out lumps of coal to two of last week’s relists.  The petitioner in Hegab v. Long, 13-256, who sought federal-court review of an agency’s revocation of his security clearance, will instead get nothing and like it:  the Court denied his petition without comment.  Fulmer v. Texas, 13-5769, requested rehearing so the case could be considered together with Kennedy v. Texas, 13-5714.  The relist seemed a lot less promising after the Court denied Kennedy last week.  Well, Fulmer got the relief he requested — after a fashion.  His petition was denied on Monday; now the cases are together in eternity.

The news was better for the boys and girls on the nice list.  Well, I guess it’s an exaggeration to use the plural: there’s only one.  Ryan v. Hurles, 12-1472, involving whether it is per se unreasonable for a state not to provide an evidentiary hearing on a judicial-bias claim, continues to defy the odds as it is back for an eighth relist.  Surely, we will be seeing an opinion of some sort in this case soon.  Mind you, making such predictions is usually the Court’s cue to grant cert.

We don’t normally cover cases the Court is holding, but we’ll make an exception this week.  United States v. Wurie, 13-121, comes to us from that hotbed of elocution, South Boston.  There, police observed Wurie make a call using a flip phone, so right off the bat they knew they were witnessing something very weird.  Police arrested him and, without getting a warrant, opened the phone, obtained the number for the listing “my house,” and used it to locate Wurie’s apartment — where they found drugs, cash, and a gun.  The First Circuit held the warrantless phone search unconstitutional and vacated the conviction.  The government seeks review on the question whether the Fourth Amendment allows the police, without obtaining a warrant, to review the call log of a cell phone found on a person who has been lawfully arrested.  The Court is evidently holding Wurie for Riley v. California, 13-132, a case raising a similar question involving a smartphone and, it appears, a more wide-ranging search.  The Court called for the record in Riley and apparently is holding Wurie so it can continue to consider them together.  It will take a while until we know what will happen with these cases, but I think it’s clear to everyone that if you’re not careful, using your cell phone can have consequences.

On that cautionary note, our yuletide fun is up for the nonce.  But take heart!  We’ll be back next week.  Until then, reading a good book beside a roaring fire will help to replace the intellectual stimulation our weekly dispatches provide.

Thanks to Conor McEvily for compiling and drafting this update.


(relisted after the September 30, October 11, October 18, November 1, November 8, November 15, November 26, and December 6 Conferences)

Recommended Citation: John Elwood, Relist Watch, SCOTUSblog (Dec. 12, 2013, 11:01 AM),