The new term of the United States Supreme Court will begin in October, 2011. The Court has already granted cert in some interesting criminal appeals cases. Some of the cases where the Court granted cert include:
(1) MAPLES V. THOMAS, INTERIM COMMISSIONER, AL D.O.C., No. 10-63, (lower court cite 586 F.3d 879). According to the description of the facts, this is a “capital case, where a divided Eleventh Circuit held that Alabama may execute a state inmate without any federal court review of the merits of serious constitutional claims because of a missed filing deadline that indisputably occurred through no fault of petitioner and after the State failed to take any action when court orders mailed to petitioner’s lead attorneys of record were returned to a court clerk unopened with “Return to Sender – Left Firm” written on an envelope.” The Court will decide the issue of “whether the Eleventh Circuit properly held – in conflict with the decisions of this Court and other courts – that there was no “cause” to excuse any procedural default where petitioner was blameless for the default, the State’s own conduct contributed to the default, and petitioner’s attorneys of record were no longer functioning as his agents at the time of any default.
(2) LAFLER V. COOPER, No. 10-209, (lower court cite 376 Fed.Appx. 563). The Court’s granting of cert states that “Anthony Cooper faced assault with intent to murder charges. His counsel advised him to reject a plea offer based on a misunderstanding of Michigan law. Cooper rejected the offer, and he was convicted as charged. Cooper does not assert that any error occurred at the trial. On habeas review, the Sixth Circuit found that because there is a reasonable probability that Cooper would have accepted the plea offer had he been adequately advised, his Sixth Amendment rights were violated. The writ was conditioned on Michigan reoffering the plea agreement. The question presented is: Is a state habeas petitioner entitled to relief where his counsel deficiently advises him to reject a favorable plea bargain but the defendant is later convicted and sentenced pursuant to a fair trial?” The parties were also asked to brief the issue of “WHAT REMEDY, IF ANY, SHOULD BE PROVIDED FOR INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL DURING PLEA BARGAIN NEGOTIATIONS IF THE DEFENDANT WAS LATER CONVICTED AND SENTENCED PURSUANT TO CONSTITUTIONALLY ADEQUATE PROCEDURES?”
(3) MISSOURI V. FRYE, No. 10-444, (lower court cite 311 S.W.3d 350). The parties were also asked to brief the issue of “WHAT REMEDY, IF ANY, SHOULD BE PROVIDED FOR INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL DURING PLEA BARGAIN NEGOTIATIONS IF THE DEFENDANT WAS LATER CONVICTED AND SENTENCED PURSUANT TO CONSTITUTIONALLY ADEQUATE PROCEDURES?”
(4) GREENE V. FISHER, No. 10-637 (lower court cite 606 F.3d 85). Question presented: For purposes of adjudicating a state prisoner’s petition for federal habeas relief, what is the temporal cutoff for whether a decision from this Court qualifies as “clearly established Federal law” under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), as amended by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996?”
(5) MESSERSCHMIDT V. MILLENDER: No. 10-704 (lower court cite 620 F.3d 1016). “This Court has held that police officers who procure and execute warrants later determined invalid are entitled to qualified immunity, and evidence obtained should not be suppressed, so long as the warrant is not “so lacking in indicia of probable cause as to render official belief in its existence entirely unreasonable.” United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 920, 923 (1984); Malley v. Briggs, 475 U.S. 335, 341, 344-45 (1986). The questions presented are, (1) Under these standards, are officers entitled to qualified immunity where they obtained a facially valid warrant to search for firearms, firearm-related materials, and gang-related items in the residence of a gang member and felon who had threatened to kill his girlfriend and fired a sawed-off shotgun at her, and a district attorney approved the application, no factually on-point case law prohibited the search, and the alleged overbreadth in the warrant did not expand the scope of the search? (2) Should the Malley/Leon standards be reconsidered or clarified in light of lower courts’ inability to apply them in accordance with their purpose of deterring police misconduct, resulting in imposition of liability on officers for good faith conduct and improper exclusion of evidence in criminal cases?”
(6) GONZALEZ V. THALER: No. 10-895 (lower court cite 623 F.3d 222). The Court is considering the issue of timeliness of a petition for writ of habeas corpus. The questions being considered include “1. WAS THERE JURISDICTION TO ISSUE A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY UNDER 28 U.S.C. § 2253(C) AND TO ADJUDICATE PETITIONER’S APPEAL? 2. WAS THE APPLICATION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS OUT OF TIME UNDER 28 U.S.C. §2244(D)(1) DUE TO “THE DATE ON WHICH THE JUDGMENT BECAME FINAL BY THE CONCLUSION OF DIRECT REVIEW OR THE EXPIRATION OF THE TIME FOR SEEKING SUCH REVIEW”?
(7) FLORENCE V. BOARD OF CHOSEN FREEHOLDERS, No. 10-945 (lower court cite 621 F.3d 296). Question presented: Whether the Fourth Amendment permits a jail to conduct a suspicionless strip search of every individual arrested for any minor offense no matter what the circumstances?
While all of the above cases present interesting questions, I think the opinion I am most wanting to read is that which will come in UNITED STATES V. JONES, No. 10-1259 (lower court case number 615 F.3d 544), where the Court will consider the issue of “Whether the warrantless use of a tracking device on respondent’s vehicle to monitor its movements on public streets violated the Fourth Amendment.” The Court also directed the parties to specifically address the issue of “”WHETHER THE GOVERNMENT VIOLATED RESPONDENT’S FOURTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS BY INSTALLING THE GPS TRACKING DEVICE ON HIS VEHICLE WITHOUT A VALID WARRANT AND WITHOUT HIS CONSENT.” I mentioned in my previous post that because the lower Federal courts are split on the issue of whether a finding of probable cause is needed to obtain cell site information, the Court might have to take up the issue sooner rather than later. Who knew I’d be right?