It’s October, and with that brings the start of the U.S. Supreme Court’s new Term. Supreme Court junkies from South Florida might be interested to know that the Court opened its term by hearing oral argument in two cases. Although neither of the appeals is criminal, both appeals present interesting questions. In Esther Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, No. 10-1491, the Court will be addressing “[w]hether and under what circumstances the Alien Tort Statute, 28 U.S.C. 1350, allows courts to recognize a cause of action for violations of the law of nations occurring within the territory of a sovereign other than the United States?” The Supreme Court docket can be viewed here. According to a report on CNN, the case will center on whether foreign victims of torture and other crimes against humanity can sue corporations and others in federal courts of the United States.
According to the docket for the other case, Fane Lozman v. The City of Riviera Beach, Florida, No. 11-626, the res in the putative in rem admiralty proceeding was sold at a judicial auction in execution of the district court’s judgment on a maritime lien and a maritime trespass claim, and subsequently destroyed. The Court directed the parties to brief whether “either the judicial auction or the subsequent destruction of the res render this case moot?” According to a news report in the local paper, the Palm Beach Post, the case arose after Lozman was directed to make improvements to and to renew his lease for his houseboat, which he kept at the Riviera Beach Marina. When Lozman refused, the City impounded the houseboat and destroyed it. If the Court decides that the issue is not moot, the Court will likely address whether federal admiralty laws apply, such that the City would have been permitted to impound and destroy the houseboat for Lozman’s failure to make the necessary improvements to the houseboat. Further information on the case can also be found on SCOTUSblog.