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Destroying a fish isn't a federal crime, the Supreme Court ruled today, in another victory for sanity when it comes to prosecutorial over-charging.

By a surprising 5-4 split, the Court said that the provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act that prohibit destroying a "tangible object" refer to tangible objects used to record information, not any tangible object at all.

The U.S. Supreme Court will have one fewer case to argue this term, following the release of a Louisiana inmate who's been in prison for almost 30 years.

In 1985, George Toca was convicted of the murder of his best friend during an armed robbery gone wrong. At the time of the murder, which occurred a year earlier, Toca was 17. He was sentenced to life without parole.

Toca's question was whether Miller v. Alabama applied retroactively.

Nebraska, Oklahoma Sue Colorado to Block Recreational Pot

Colorado has legalized marijuana. Undoubtedly, some of the out-of-staters who cross the border to purchase marijuana will take it back with them when they leave. This causes headaches for neighboring states that do not wish to legalize marijuana -- all of Colorado's neighboring states, to be exact.

That is what the Nebraska and Oklahoma v. Colorado lawsuit is about. Two states that barely border Colorado filed suit in the Supreme Court of the United States on Thursday. (Yay, a case of original state v. state jurisdiction that isn't a mind-numbingly boring water dispute!) They somehow hope that the Supreme Court will allow them to dictate what the law should be in a neighboring state by making a federalism argument -- a creative approach that seems unlikely to work.

When can a police officer's mistake of law be overlooked in a motion to suppress? Whenever it's a reasonable mistake, Chief Justice John Roberts explained in an 8-1 decision in Heien v. North Carolina.

A county sheriff's deputy pulled Nicholas Heien over for having one brake light out. This traffic stop for an equipment violation, of course, yielded cocaine (like these cases often do). On appeal, Heien argued that the deputy lacked reasonable suspicion for the stop because the North Carolina statute in question doesn't require that a car have two working brake lights.

4 Grants: Bankruptcy, Patent Royalties, Life Sentences for Minors

The U.S. Supreme Court released its latest orders list Friday, granting certiorari in four cases. And unlike the typical list of snoozers, this list contained a case of national importance: Toca v. Louisiana.

Toca is all about clarifying the Court's Miller v. Alabama decision -- the one from 2012 where the Court declared that mandatory minimum life sentences for juvenile offenders were cruel and unusual under the Eighth Amendment. Since then, federal and state courts and legislatures have split over whether that decision applied retroactively to past convictions (and therefore required resentencing).

Besides that massive case, the court granted three other petitions: two bankruptcy cases and a reexamination of patent royalty precedent.

3 New Grants: Texas License Plates, La. Execution, Patents

Happy Friday y'all! Today's breaking news out of the Supreme Court involves grants in three cases -- two from Texas and one from Louisiana. The first case, and the more important one in my opinion, is the First Amendment license plate case that we've covered previously -- the state of Texas is denying requests for Confederate flag vanity plates.

Also from Texas, the Court will take on patent issues once again in a spat over Cisco's Wi-Fi products.

Finally, in a death penalty case out of Louisiana, the Court will have the opportunity to flesh out their holding from Atkins v. Virginia. More specifically, do courts have to hold a separate hearing regarding mental disability and competency to be executed? And do they have to cover the tab for evaluations?

The Supreme Court often appends opinions related to prisoner litigation to the end of its semi-weekly order list. Generally, if the Court is going to deny a cert. petition to a prisoner on habeas or direct appeal, it summarily does so in the order list, but if an issue is important enough, one or more members of the Court will address it in an opinion or statement.

Today's statement, issued by Justice Kagan, and joined by Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor in a cert. denial to Patrick Henry Joseph v. United States, calls into question an Eleventh Circuit appellate procedure.

SCOTUS Stays Execution of Mo. Inmate Abandoned by Counsel

Convicted murderer Mark Christeson got the rarest of reprieves: a Supreme Court stay blocking his execution (for now). With an execution set for midnight (Wednesday morning), he was spared with just a few hours to go over the dissent of Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito.

Why the reprieve? The order didn't elaborate on the reason for the stay, but we covered his case yesterday on our Eighth Circuit blog: Christeson never received federal habeas review because his court-appointed counsel didn't even meet with him until after the deadline, then filed a late petition, and then spent the next seven years avoiding their own malpractice by continuing to represent him, pressing frivolous timeliness arguments on appeal.

The dubious duo still represent him, in fact -- though outside counsel, as well as a group of former judges, all submitted briefs to the Supreme Court asking for a stay while the issues of a denied substitution of counsel, the conflict of interest with his current counsel, and his denied habeas review are all sorted out.

SCOTUS Grants 3 New Cases, Lets Texas Voter ID Law Stand (for Now)

The Supreme Court's latest orders list is out, with three very interesting grants. First, what happens to a convict's guns? Can a court order them transferred or sold to a buyer of the convict's choice? Second, can a Batson issue be dealt with ex parte? And in the third grant, the Court explores the possibility of a facial challenge to a hotel records law under the Fourth Amendment.

In other news: The Court let another state voting law stay in effect, this time in Texas, in the strongest test of the Purcell v. Gonzalez holding yet. A district court had held that the law had a discriminatory purpose, and blocked it, but the Fifth Circuit, citing Purcell, reversed the trial court.

On Monday, the Supreme Court heard its first oral argument of the October 2014 term. The facts of Heien v. North Carolina are straightforward. Vazquez was driving Heien's car; Heien was sleeping in the back seat. A police officer thought Vazquez looked "stiff and nervous" as he drove by, so the officer followed him. The officer noticed one of the car's brake lights was out, so the officer pulled Vazquez over, issued a citation for the light, and asked for permission to search the car. Boom: drugs.

The issue is that the North Carolina statute in question requires only that a car have a working brake light, not two working brake lights (though the same statute also says all the lights -- plural -- have to be in working order). The state supreme court had never interpreted the law, but a state appellate court was hearing a case on that very issue. Thus, the question presented was "[w]hether a police officer's mistake of law can provide the individualized suspicion that the Fourth Amendment requires to justify a traffic stop."