U.S. Supreme Court - The FindLaw U.S. Supreme Court Opinion Summaries Blog

November 2017 Archives

A pair of patent appeals were argued before the High Court this week, each with potentially massive ramifications for IP litigators. One involves a challenge to a part of the inter partes patent review process established by the 2011 America Invents Act, while the other challenges the whole inter partes review process.

Both appeals strike a chord within the tech and intellectual property communities as each is attacking a process designed to stem and discourage patent trolls from filing lawsuits. The inter partes patent review process was designed to resolve the technical aspects of patent infringe disputes in a more cost effective manner.

The United States Supreme Court dealt a blow to gun advocates today by rejecting a pair of appeals, each seeking to overturn state law restrictions on firearms. One of the appeals involved the Maryland ban on assault rifles and high capacity magazines, and the other involved Florida's ban on the open carry of handguns.

Notably, the High Court has not heard a major gun case since 2010. At that time, it held that handguns could not be banned by state and local governments for protection in a home. And, likely due to the high level of public concern related to the recent spate of mass shootings, the Court probably does not want to loosen any gun restrictions that have been upheld by an appellate court.

Despite there being no vacancies on the United States Supreme Court, and no plans to expand the High Court, President Donald Trump has announced five more potential candidates to his already long and distinguished "shortlist" of nominees, should another vacancy arise.

SCOTUS to Hear Challenge to Political Apparel Law

In the shadow of the U.S. Supreme Court, millions of Americans have marched on Washington to express political opinions on everything from abortion to war.

But in the one place that their vote actually counts -- the polling place -- several states have declared political speech off-limits. Federal appeals courts have upheld such "speech-free zones" in various states.

In Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky, it seems the U.S. Supreme Court may have something to say about that.

Marijuana Dispensary Case Makes It to the Supreme Court

While many states are legalizing marijuana, cannabis lawyers are quick to advise that federal laws trump state laws when it comes to controlled substances.

Federal prosecutors have come and gone, but one thing is certain. The Internal Revenue Service is not going to leave the marijuana industry alone.

In the course of auditing tax filings, the IRS found that a Colorado marijuana business was criminally culpable under federal drug laws. The company, in The Green Solution Retail, Inc. v. United States of America, is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether the agency exceeded its power.

Supreme Children's Book Author: Sotomayor Has 3 New Kids Books

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor usually writes for a sophisticated audience.

Some of her most notable decisions have involved children, such as a custody dispute between parents in New York and Hong Kong. But her newest writings are intended for children to read.

Sotomayor is working on books for young people. One is a picture book that she hopes will show "happy endings are possible" even for struggling families.

Prosecutors Can Renege on Plea Deal, Supreme Court Rules

Criminal law is not a shell game, but it sure must look like it to Michael Daniel Cuero.

He pleaded guilty to two felonies and was sentenced to 14 years and four months in state prison. However, the prosecutor missed a prior offense in the deal and amended the complaint.

As a result, Cuero got 25 years to life in Kernan v. Cuero. A federal appeals court said he was entitled to the 14-year deal, but the U.S. Supreme Court reversed and remanded. By the time his sentence is straightened out, Cuero should ask for time served.

Inmate Can't Remember Crime, but Can Be Executed

It was the end of a long road for Vernon Madison.

Convicted of murdering a police officer more than 30 years ago, Madison had avoided his death sentence year after year. He was tried three times and appealed more, including a reversal this year when an appeals court said he was incompetent to be executed because he couldn't remember his crime.

But the U.S. Supreme Court drew the final curtain on Madison's journey through the courts, saying "nothwithstanding his memory loss -- he recognizes that he will be put to death as punishment for the murder he was found to have committed."

When a lawsuit brings both state and federal claims, and all the federal claims are dismissed, and the federal court decides not to exercise supplemental or ancillary jurisdiction over the state law claims, how long does a plaintiff have to file those state law claims in state court?

If you answered 30 days, then you'd be right. If you answered, it depends on how long the statute was tolled, you might also be right. But, a case currently being considered by SCOTUS might finally provide a more definitive answer. In the Artis v. District of Columbia matter, the High Court is being asked to decide whether the state law claim is tolled under federal statute, or if the 30-day filing window/grace period obviates the need for tolling.