CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Supreme Court Cases, Past and Present

CrimProf has now summarized the criminal law and procedure cases from last term and previewed those for which cert has been granted for the coming term. In addition, we will summarize new cases on which review is granted throughout the term.

To simplify access to posts about particular Supreme Court cases, we have now tagged them with the "Supreme Court" label. You can find them all by scrolling down to the "Topical Archive" list on the right of this page and clicking on "Supreme Court." At this point, we are not tagging all of our posts with the various categories listed, but as we build our army of helpers, we may begin using more of the tage.

Here are links to our recent posts on Supreme Court cases, with a description of the issues raised in the cases to be argued this coming term. Links to the briefs in many of the cases appear at the end of the post about the case:

Last Term's Opinions

Upcoming cases:

Maryland v. Shatzer: Whether Edwards v. Arizona (1981), which bars police from initiating questioning with criminal suspects who have invoked their right to counsel, applies to interrogation that takes place nearly three years after the initial interrogation and invocation of right to counsel. 

Johnson v. United States: Whether a prior state conviction for battery is, in all cases, a “violent felony” under the federal Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”) even when that offense does not have as an element the use or threatened use of physical force.

McDaniel v. Brown: Whether, on federal habeas review, the evidence underlying the defendant’s conviction for sexual assault was clearly insufficient under Jackson v. Virginia (1979).

Padilla v. Kentucky: Whether the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of effective assistance of counsel (1) requires a criminal defense attorney to advise a non-citizen client that pleading guilty to an aggravated felony will trigger mandatory, automatic deportation, and (2) if there is no such advice, and that misadvice about deportation induces a guilty plea, whether the misadvice amounts to ineffective assistance of counsel and warrants setting aside the guilty plea.

Smith v. Spisak: Whether the Sixth Circuit contravened the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) by improperly extending Mills v. Maryland.

Pottawattamie County v. McGhee: Whether a prosecutor may be subjected to a civil trial and potential damages for a wrongful conviction and incarceration where the prosecutor allegedly violated a criminal defendant’s “substantive due process” rights by procuring false testimony during the criminal investigation and introducing that same testimony against the criminal defendant at trial.

Wood v. Allen: (1) Whether the state court erred in concluding that, during the sentencing phase of a capital case, the defense attorney’s failure to present the defendant’s impaired mental functions constituted ineffective counsel; and (2) whether the 11th Circuit erred in its application of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) in reviewing the state court decision.

Sullivan v. Florida: Whether the imposition of a life without parole sentence on a thirteen-year-old for a non-homicide violates the prohibition on cruel and unusual punishments under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. 

Graham v. Florida: Whether the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment prohibits the imprisonment of a juvenile for life without the possibility of parole as punishment for the juvenile’s commission of a non-homicide crime.

Florida v. Powell: Must a statement be suppressed if the suspect was not expressly advised of his right to have counsel present during interrogation, even if the suspect was advised of the right to talk with an attorney "before questioning" and the "right to use" any of his rights "at any time" during interrogation.

Black v. United States:  (1) Whether 18 U.S.C. § 1346 applies to the conduct of a private individual whose alleged "scheme to defraud" did not contemplate economic or other property harm to the private party to whom honest services were owed; (2) Whether a court of appeals may avoid review of prejudicial instructional error by retroactively imposing an onerous preservation requirement not found in the federal rules.

United States v. Comstock: Whether Congress had the constitutional authority to enact 18 U.S.C. 4248, which authorizes court-ordered civil commitment by the federal government of (1) "sexually dangerous" persons who are already in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons, but who are coming to the end of their federal prison sentences, and (2) "sexually dangerous" persons who are in the custody of the Attorney General because they have been found mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Weyhrauch v. United States: Whether 18 U.S.C. § 1346, by criminalizing denials of "the intangible right of honest services," mandates the creation by the federal courts of a federal common law defining the disclosure obligations of state government officials.

Briscoe v. Virginia: Whether, if a state allows a prosecutor to introduce a certificate of a forensic laboratory analysis, without presenting the testimony of the analyst who prepared the certificate, the state avoids violating the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment by providing that the accused has a right to call the analyst as his own witness?

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