The Supreme Court granted seven new petitions for certiorari on Friday, bringing the total number of granted petitions for the 2012 term to 39.
Which issues made the latest cut? Topics ranged from patent implications of self-replicating seeds, to the Takings Clause.
The seven new grants are:
Bowman v. Monsanto Co. -- Examining whether the Federal Circuit erred by refusing to find patent exhaustion in patented seeds even after an authorized sale, and by creating an exception to the doctrine of patent exhaustion for self-replicating technologies.
Koontz v. St Johns River Water Management -- Reviewing whether a government's refusal to issue a development permit can amount to "taking" private property for which the owner must be paid.
Arlington, Texas v. FCC and Cable Telecom. & Tech. v. FCC -- Consolidated appeals on the question of whether a court should apply Chevron to review an agency's determination of its own jurisdiction.
Alleyne v. U.S. -- A sentencing enhancement appeal examining whether the Court should overrule its 2002 Harris v. United Statesdecision.
Boyer v. Louisiana -- Addressing whether a state's failure to fund counsel for an indigent defendant for five years, particularly where failure was the direct result of the prosecution's choice to seek the death penalty, should be weighed against the state for speedy trial purposes.
McBurney v. Young -- Reviewing whether, under the Privileges and Immunities Clause, a state may preclude citizens of other states from enjoying the same right of access to public records that the state affords its own citizens.
Of the seven cases, Alleyne v. U.S. is likely to have the biggest impact on appellate litigation. In Apprendi v. New Jersey, the Supreme Court held that, other than the fact of a prior conviction, any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum is, in effect, an element of the crime, which must be submitted to a jury, and proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Two years later, in Harris, the Court concluded judges could rule on facts that would allow more than a minimum sentence to be imposed.
If the Court decides to reverse Harris, it could result in a flood of resentencing appeals in cases where judicial findings resulted in above-mandatory minimum sentencing.