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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.

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?

"My dear Holmes," I said, eyeing the cert. petition warily. "What could this be? Hasn't the estate lost to Mr. Leslie Klinger already?"

"Correct, Watson," said Holmes. "There can be no doubt that the Estate of Arthur Conan Doyle, in an opinion by Mr. Posner, was thoroughly rebuffed. You'll recall, I hope, the facts of that matter."

"Was it not true that the original four novels and first 46 stories were no longer protected by copyright, but the final 10 were?"

Once, twice, three times unanimous. In a highly uncontroversial lot of opinions, the Supreme Court tackled a long list of tasks: limiting abstract software patents, clarifying that a public employee can't be fired over compelled testimony, and providing a reasonable means to challenge the motive behind the tax man's subpoenas.

We know -- it's not exactly the big, bad cases you were hoping for, but like all special snowflakes, these opinions will have an impact in the real world.

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.

Twenty-nine years after the film about Jake LaMotta's life was released, the daughter of Frank P. Petrella, who penned two screenplays and co-authored a book about the late boxer, brought suit, alleging copyright infringement.

Twenty-nine years. In that time, witnesses died, alleged agreements disappeared, the transferred rights to the original works were renewed by Pamela Petrella, and MGM Grand invested heavily in the movie, signing distribution agreements with online and broadcast video providers.

Fee-shifting has long since been broken in the Federal Circuit. Chief Judge Randall Rader has written an op-ed and numerous concurrences on the subjecting, lamenting the lack of fee awards and the circuit's uniquely high standard for shifting fees.

He got his wish. Yesterday, in a pair of extremely important decisions, the Supreme Court, as predicted, fixed fee-shifting. How? By dropping the Federal Circuit's impossibly high standard down to a "case-by-case exercise" of a trial judge's discretion, a discretion which must be respected on appeal now that the circuit's de novo review has been dropped as well.

Chief Judge Rader got his wish. The trial courts have their tools. If they use them, this could go a long way toward fighting frivolous patent trolling.

It's a big week for oral arguments in the Court, with fascinating questions of statutory interpretation in the areas of gun purchasing regulations and criminal restitution.

Meanwhile, are two of the court's liberal justices feuding? And if so, who has more support on the Court?

It's been an unusually busy day on First Street, with the court granting certiorari in two cases after yesterday's conference, and with a minor surprise in the ongoing nationwide litigation over Aereo, a service that streams local broadcast channels over the internet to subscribers.

The two new cases, Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoefer and Loughrin v. United States both involve banks, but that's where the similarities end. The former case asks whether a bank has a fiduciary duty to divest stock in itself from employees' stock plans when it knows or should know that it is engaging in risky (subprime lending) business practices. In the latter case, the Court will decide whether the government has to prove that a defendant who passed stolen checks at Target had the intent to defraud the bank or financial institution specifically.

You can patent a snow plow or a new combustion engine. You cannot, however, patent an abstract idea, such as using an intermediary for escrow purposes in a financial transaction.

But wait, what if you write a computer program that makes that abstract idea a reality? Does translating an idea into code turn it from an unpatentable abstraction to a patentable practical invention?

That's the issue in Alice Corporation v. CLS Bank. Alice's founder wrote a program that calculates the obligations of parties entering into a currency exchange transaction, which can take days to complete. The program basically acts as an escrow service.