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Supreme Court Calendar: 6 Cases to Watch in October

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on October 01, 2015 11:57 AM

Coming out of the Summer break and having completed its Long Conference, the Supreme Court is gearing up for a busy Fall. On the oral arguments calendar for the October term are cases covering juries in death penalty trials, energy consumption incentives, and whether a man who's been in prison over 50 years can be set free.

Here's what you need to know about the biggest cases coming up in the Supreme Court:

  1. Hawkins v. Community Bank of Raymore (October 5) -- Ever co-sign a loan with your spouse? Ever been sued for $2 million to pay the loan back? This case tests the limits of federal protections for spousal loan guarantors.
  2. Ocasio v. United States (October 6) -- Baltimore police officer Samuel Ocasio was convicted for extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion based on a kickback scheme under which officers got money to recommend a specific auto body shop to accident victims. Since the cops got nothing from the accident victims, the Court will determine whether a conspiracy exists.
  3. Kansas v. Gleason and Kansas v. Carr (October 7) -- These consolidated cases will examine the jury's role in death penalty cases. First, whether affirmative instructions that mitigating circumstances "need not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt" are required; second, whether the right to confrontation applies to the sentencing phase of death penalty trials; and third, whether the sentencing phase must be severed from the guilt phase.
  4. Montgomery v. Louisiana (October 13) -- Henry Montgomery has been serving a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole for a murder he committed when he was 17. In 2012, the Supreme Court held such sentences for juveniles were unconstitutional. Here, it will decide whether its ruling was retroactive to cases like Montgomery's.
  5. Hurst v. Florida (October 13) -- Another death penalty jury case, this time deciding whether juries in Florida: (1) must be unanimous in recommending the death penalty; (2) must be unanimous in finding aggravating factors; and (3) must determine if a defendant is mentally retarded.
  6. FERC v. Electric Power Supply and ENEROC v. Electric Power Supply Association (October 14) -- Another set of consolidated cases that will look at whether the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has the authority to incentive energy consumers to reduce their peak-hour consumption by offering rebates for such reductions.

As always, keep an eye on FindLaw's Law and Daily Life blog and our Supreme Court blog as we cover the oral arguments and the decisions in these cases.

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