In its conference of November 4, 2016, the court will consider petitions involving issues such as whether the Federal Employees Health Benefits Act pre-empts state laws that prevent carriers from seeking subrogation or reimbursement pursuant to their FEHBA contracts; whether, when the owner of a vacant home informs police that he has not authorized entry, an officer assessing probable cause to arrest those inside for trespassing may discredit the suspects’ questionable claims of an innocent mental state; and whether a state court violates a petitioner’s federal due process rights when it denies a new trial and DNA testing in an actual innocence case in which newly discovered evidence demonstrates that the only physical evidence linking the petitioner to the crime scene was based upon inaccurate forensic science and false expert testimony.

15-1485

Issues: (1) Whether police officers who found late-night partiers inside a vacant home belonging to someone else had probable cause to arrest the partiers for trespassing under the Fourth Amendment, and in particular whether, when the owner of a vacant home informs police that he has not authorized entry, an officer assessing probable cause to arrest those inside for trespassing may discredit the suspects’ questionable claims of an innocent mental state; and (2) whether, even if there was no probable cause to arrest the apparent trespassers, the officers were entitled to qualified immunity because the law was not clearly established in this regard.

15-9329

Issues: (1) Whether it is a violation of the Sixth Amendment guarantee of conflict-free counsel for a lawyer who previously prosecuted a defendant to represent that same defendant in a subsequent and related capital trial; and (2) whether a valid waiver of the right to conflict-free counsel can be found where the trial record contains no mention of a conflict or waiver, and the post-conviction record does not address, let alone satisfy, the constitutionally required elements of a valid waiver.

16-107
Disclosure: Vinson & Elkins LLP, whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, is among the counsel to the petitioner in this case.

Issue: Whether the fact that a pending appeal “played no significant role” in an appellant’s voluntary conduct mooting a case, Alvarez v. Smith, is entitled to controlling weight in determining whether a lower court judgment should be vacated, as a majority of courts of appeals have held; or whether a party must make an additional showing of compelling circumstances warranting vacatur, as the 10th Circuit held in this case.

16-149

Issues: (1) Whether the Federal Employees Health Benefits Act pre-empts state laws that prevent carriers from seeking subrogation or reimbursement pursuant to their FEHBA contracts; and (2) whether FEHBA’s express-pre-emption provision, 5 U.S.C. § 8902(m)(1), which expressly “preempt[s] any State or local law” that would prevent enforcement of “the terms of any contract” between the Office of Personnel Management and a carrier which “relate to the nature, provision, or extent of coverage or benefits (including payments with respect to benefits)[,]” violates the supremacy clause.

16-5247

Issue: Whether a state court violates a petitioner’s federal due process rights when it denies a new trial and DNA testing in an actual innocence case in which newly discovered evidence demonstrates that the only physical evidence linking the petitioner to the crime scene was based upon inaccurate forensic science and false expert testimony.

Posted in Cases in the Pipeline

Recommended Citation: Kate Howard, Petitions to watch | Conference of November 4, SCOTUSblog (Nov. 1, 2016, 3:41 PM), https://www.scotusblog.com/2016/11/petitions-to-watch-conference-of-november-4/