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May 26, 2011

Big criminal justice day from SCOTUS, though no blockbusters or left/right splits

Thanks to the live-blogging of the folks at SCOTUSblog, it appears that the Supreme Court is continuing its focus on criminal justice opinions this week.  This morning the Court handed down four opinions, three of which involve criminal justice matters and all of which appear to have produced intricate rulings without any of the kind of ideological 5-4 splitting seen earlier this week in Plata

None of today's SCOTUS criminal rulings appear at first glance to be major or even really all that consequential.  (And they are sure to be overshadowed by a 5-3 split ruling in Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting, wherein the Chief explains for the Court why Arizona laws imposing obligations on employers with respect to alien employees are not preempted by federal immigration laws.)  Here are links to the SCOTUS opinions in the three criminal justice cases handed down this morning, with a super-brief summary of the issues in play:

Camreta v. Greene: reviewing qualified immunity win for state officials on Fourth Amendment claim

Fowler v. United States: elements of federal witness tampering statute

United States v. Tinklenberg: calculating Speedy Trial Act timelines

As always, I will be grateful to commentors and readers for alerting me to anything that seems especially noteworthy or important in these SCOTUS opinions for sentencing law and policy fans.

May 26, 2011 at 10:25 AM | Permalink


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I note that the Eleventh Circuit continues to solidify its claim to being the right-wing answer to the Ninth. (I.e., ideologically out-of-whack and in the SCOTUS dog house.)

Posted by: Anon | May 26, 2011 12:06:47 PM

The Camreta decision makes my head spin. If I understand it correctly (and I wouldn't be surprised if I got it wrong): a plaintiff complained that her rights were violated; the Ninth Circuit said they were, but that the defendants had qualified immunity; the defendants, even though they won, appealed that decision to find out if they really violated the plaintiff's rights; the SC said, yeah, they can appeal a decision that they won; but, the dispute was moot because the plaintiff could never suffer the same harm, so the Ninth Circuit's decision is vacated. So the defendants not only won, but they really, truly, most sincerely won.

Is that it?

Posted by: C.A.J. | May 26, 2011 11:54:41 PM

"So the defendants not only won, but they really, truly, most sincerely won.

Is that it?"

No, that is not it.

What the defendants really wanted was a Supreme Court decision in their favor on the merits: "this Court also should conclude that the interview of the child at her school to determine whether she was the victim of sexual abuse was reasonable at its inception."

They didn't get it.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | May 27, 2011 12:48:10 PM

or in other words kent. again with faced with a decision that stips american citizens of their rights...they choked AGAIN!

Posted by: rodsmith | May 28, 2011 1:51:14 AM

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