Supreme Court Criminal Law News - U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Supreme Court - The FindLaw U.S. Supreme Court Opinion Summaries Blog

Recently in Criminal Law Category

This was a wee bit unexpected.

Late last week, the Ninth Circuit blocked the execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood, at least temporarily, while he pursued First Amendment right-of-access claims regarding Arizona's drugs of choice for lethal injection. On Monday, eleven judges dissented from the denial of en banc rehearing, with Judge Kozinski writing a separate dissent mocking the death penalty generally.

Then the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in and vacated the injunction. And then the Arizona Supreme Court issued a stay. And then they didn't.

How many times have you stared at Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and thought to yourself, "I can't help but wonder ... isn't RBG just an older Carrier Bradshaw?" Of course you have not. But if you understand that reference at all, you'll love the newest Supreme Court parody making the rounds around the Internet.

If you don't, well, we have a list of interesting cases set for the fall. Also, even though we just talked about the death penalty on Friday, the courts are ridin' again, west sidin' again, with the Ninth Circuit staying an execution pending a challenge to a state's secret lethal injection drugs. It's an issue that we've seen crop up repeatedly, nationwide, over the last couple of years, and now, it's a circuit split.

It's also the second anti-death penalty ruling to come from the Ninth Circuit's territory (the other decision was from a district court in California) in less than a week, both of which could end up on the Supreme Court's docket.

A simple title for a simple case with a simple resolution:

Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans "the privacies of life," [...] The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought. Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple -- get a warrant.

That's right: in terms of the Fourth Amendment, the smartphone and even the flip-phone, with all of the data they contain, are not akin to patting down a pack of cigarettes in a suspect's pocket.

Looking for today's opinions in ABC v. Aereo and Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer? Check out our additional SCOTUS coverage on our Technologist and In House blogs, respectively.

It's another busy Monday on First Street, with opinions handed down in cases involving securities class actions ("fraud on the market"), EPA greenhouse gas regulation (can they do that?) and the mental state of mind required to be convicted of a federal bank fraud statute.

It's a weird assortment of cases, and probably not the ones you were hoping for, but if environmentalism, holding corporations accountable, or making a federal case out of passing bad checks is your thing, read on for the roundup:

Now we're getting to the good stuff. Last week, we helped your insomnia by recapping the juice man's juiceless juice and incomprehensible cross-ideological splits -- not the sort of stuff that anyone but SCOTUS diehards can sit through without being rendered unconscious through boredom.

Fortunately, Monday has arrived, and with it, a questionable gun straw-purchaser holding, an opinion that will allow Ohio's terrible political speech restriction to be challenged, and maybe, just maybe, the collapse of a nation's economy thanks to SCOTUS and Wall Street vultures creditors.

Mondays aren't all bad. Sure, they mean traffic, a return to work, and a desperate need to run to Chotchkie's, but for Supreme Court junkies, at least while the Court is in session, Mondays can bring an orders list full of certiorari grants and denials, plus merits opinions.

We've got all of the above today, and better yet: it's mostly interesting. The Court has declined to address the reporter's shield or privilege in an appeal from a New York Times reporter and author, but will address the touchy matter of gerrymandering congressional districts. The Court also double-reversed the Federal Circuit again, and handed down an opinion in the housewife's revenge via chemical weapons case.

Memorial Day weekend: a time for remembrance, barbequing with family, and perhaps, for the Supreme Court to catch up on backlogged business?

This morning, the Court released decisions in four pending cases, running the gamut of capital punishment for the intellectually disabled, excessive force in police chase shootings, free speech of presidential protestors, and Indian gaming and sovereignty.

It's a mixed bag, and a lot of interesting reading.

Lost in last week's flurry of major Supreme Court decisions was a case that on the surface seemed unremarkable: the Sixth Circuit was reversed in a habeas case. How many times have we typed those words?

But, repetitive procedural path aside, White v. Woodall is actually quite the interesting case for those who work within the restrictive confines of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA). The all-too-familiar standard is that a federal court shouldn't grant habeas relief unless there was an "unreasonable application" of clearly established federal law.

It's another bad day for the Fourth Amendment.

Two brothers are driving a silver Ford F-150, license plate 8-David-94925. An anonymous caller dials 911 and claims that the truck ran her off the road.

Stop. How confident are you that the driver of that truck is engaging in ongoing criminal activity (i.e., drunken driving) at this point?

The California Highway Patrol sure wasn't. A cruiser followed the truck for five minutes, and when no additional signs of intoxication or erratic driving were witnessed, the officers pulled over the vehicle, only to discover 30 pounds of marijuana in the truck bed.

Justice Thomas, writing for the majority of the Supreme Court, called this a "close case" and upheld the stop, citing indicia of reliability in the 911 call. Scalia, along with three liberal justices (if they keep this cross-ideological, pro-Fourth team going, we're going to have to give them a nickname, like the Fourth Faction) pointed out that the only thing that the call showed was that there was as silver truck driving on a road, headed southbound -- that's it.

This wasn't an easy question. If you want to see how difficult the question of the proper means for calculating restitution for child pornography victims is, see the many, many, many different approaches taken by courts over the last few years.

It all comes down to the impossibility of making a victim whole while the crime is ongoing. When "Amy" (pseudonym) was a child, she was the victim of abuse by her uncle, who distributed images of her online, images that are amongst the most distributed in the world. Police officers nationwide have made arrests over these exact images, and each time, as the victim, she is notified.