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October 5, 2014

Previewing some of the high-profile criminal cases on the SCOTUS docket

This new Reuters article, headlined "Inmate beards, Facebook threats on U.S. top court's docket," helpfully spotlights some of the higher-profile criminal law cases on the SCOTUS docket for the Term that officially gets started on Monday. Here are excerpts:

The U.S. Supreme Court opens on Monday a new term in which the nine justices will decide issues such as whether a Muslim prison inmate can have a beard and whether a man can be prosecuted for making threatening statements on Facebook. The term, which runs to the end of June, is expected to be defined by whatever action the justices take on whether states can ban gay marriage....

Arguments start on Monday in the cases the court has already accepted. It has agreed to hear a number of cases involving people challenging their treatment by the government, whether it be prosecutors, police or agencies.

Arkansas inmate Gregory Holt's challenge to a state prison grooming policy will be heard on Tuesday. Holt, who initially got the court's attention with a handwritten plea last year, says the policy violates a 2000 federal law giving religious rights to prisoners. He wants to grow a half-inch (1.3 cm) beard in accordance with his Muslim beliefs. Holt's lawyers note that 44 state prison systems and the federal government allow inmates to have similar beards. Legal experts predict he has a good chance of victory....

The Facebook threat case, to be argued on Dec. 1, concerns Anthony Elonis, who posted statements on the social network in 2010 after his wife, Tara Elonis, left him. Aimed at his wife, co-workers and others, the posts were mostly in the form of rap lyrics in which he fantasized about committing violent acts. Elonis was charged with violating a federal law that outlaws sending threatening communications. He was convicted on four of five counts and sentenced to 44 months in prison. The legal question is whether prosecutors needed to convince jurors that Elonis intended his statements to be interpreted as threats.

The first argument the court will hear on Monday comes in a North Carolina case brought by Nicholas Heien, who was charged and pleaded guilty to drug trafficking after police found cocaine in his car during a traffic stop. He challenged whether police had the right to stop his car for having a broken tail light when state law does not require two working tail lights.

October 5, 2014 at 09:27 PM | Permalink

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Comments

I feel pretty frustrated and cannot spend more time, but I could not find out, does Elonis have any history or arrest record for actual physical violence?

I understand what a local sheriff said about the metal detectors in the courthouse were for, Family Court. Not the murderers, drug dealers, bombers, the Family Court where people are driven to violence by their loved ones.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 5, 2014 10:39:40 PM

I would think this one would be a no-brainer!

"The first argument the court will hear on Monday comes in a North Carolina case brought by Nicholas Heien, who was charged and pleaded guilty to drug trafficking after police found cocaine in his car during a traffic stop. He challenged whether police had the right to stop his car for having a broken tail light when state law does not require two working tail lights."

Does that state's law state you are NOT required to have 2 working taillights? if the answer is yes. Then no they had no right to stop or do anything to him. He of course at that point had a legal right to leave no matter what he had to do to the cops to accomplish it.

Posted by: rodsmith | Oct 7, 2014 12:07:00 AM

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