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October 1, 2008

Lots of crime, but little punishment, in new SCOTUS grants

As detailed in this post from SCOTUSblog, the Supreme Court today added "ten new cases to its decision docket for the year .... [and of] those ten, seven involved issues of criminal law."  But, as this accounting from Lyle Denniston highlights, few of these new SCOTUS criminal law cases involve sentencing issues:   

Among the new criminal cases is a test of the scope of the right to a speedy trial for a poor individual who is being represented by a public defender (Vermont v. Brillon, 08-88), a plea for the Court to clarify how federal appeals courts are to handle prosecutors’ violations of plea bargains when the violation was not challenged at the trial (the Court limited the grant in Puckett  v. U.S., 07-9712, to one of two issues raised), and a claim that a voluntary confession made after a suspect’s arrest on federal charges but before he appears before a magistrate must be suppressed when there was a delay before that appearance occurs (Corley v. U.S., 07-10441).

Other criminal law issues raised in newly granted cases test the proof required to show an enterprise under the RICO anti-racketeering law – an issue that arises in civil as well as criminal cases under RICO (Boyle v. U.S., 07-1309), the validity of using a damaging statement by a suspect to challenge the testimony he gives on the stand, if he had not waived his lawyer when he made the statement to police (Kansas v. Ventris, 07-1356), and the obligation of a suspect who has a court-appointed lawyer to take further action to prevent police from questioning him without his lawyer on hand (Montejo v. California, 07-1529).

The final criminal case added by the Court is Rivera v. Illinois (07-9995), contending that a conviction cannot stand if the defense counsel sought to exclude a juror by making a peremptory challenge, but the juror was seated anyway.  The appeal noted a split among the Circuit Courts on whether the conviction should be overturned automatically, or whether the error of wrongly seating the juror can be excused as “harmless.”

Dare I suggest that one can see the hand of a cert-pool free Justice Alito in this new batch of grants?

Disappointingly, none of the notable sentencing cases noted in this post were on the cert granted list today.  I fear this reality means that they all will end up on the cert denied list likely to be released on Monday.  But it is possible that a summary reversal or a grant sometime later are possibilities in these cases.

October 1, 2008 at 11:29 AM | Permalink


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Prof, I think that Puckett v. U.S., 07-9712 raises sentencing issues since it comes up in the plea bargain context.

Posted by: S.cotus | Oct 1, 2008 1:42:25 PM

Dare I suggest that one can see the hand of a cert-pool free Justice Alito in this new batch of grants?

Why? Because there are a lot of criminal cases today?

Posted by: | Oct 1, 2008 3:39:50 PM

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