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January 19, 2016

SCOTUS grants cert on two more criminal cases (and on Obama's immigration policies)

Big news this morning from the Supreme Court is reported in this new SCOTUSblog post from Lyle Denniston: 

The Obama administration’s sweeping change of deportation policy for undocumented immigrants will get a thorough review by the Supreme Court, including the question of whether it violates the Constitution, the Court announced Monday.  The case will be set for argument in April, making it almost certain that there will be a final ruling by the end of June — in the midst of a presidential election campaign in which immigration is a major issue.

I suppose sentencing fans can and should be interested in the range of (quasi-?)criminal justice aspects of the law and policy involving immigration. But I am more revved up by this new SCOTUS order list because cert review was also granted on two new federal criminal cases, one of which appears to involve insider trading, the other another ACCA dispute. I hope to have more information on these grants this afternoon after I deal with some morning off-line commitments.

UPDATE:  The SCOTUSblog post linked above now has this additional brief descriptions of the other cert grants this morning, together with helpful links to the SCOTUS pages on each case:

Besides the immigration case, the Court on Tuesday accepted review of three other cases: a significant new case on insider trading in securities (Salman v. United States, grant limited to Question 1 in the case); a plea for further clarification of the enhanced sentences available under the federal Armed Career Criminal Act (Mathis v. United States), and the power of a judge, after dismissing jurors in a case, to recall the jury for further deliberation (Dietz v. Bouldin). 

As always, I would be grateful for early reader perspectives on which of these cases ought to garner extra attention in future weeks (and posts).

January 19, 2016 at 10:13 AM | Permalink


While, technically, it is a civil case, I could see Dietz having a sleeper impact on criminal cases.

Criminal cases have an even greater potential than civil cases to have a flawed verdict (due to certain add-on offenses, primarily gun-related, that depend on a conviction for the underlying offense). In the perfect world, the judge or counsel catch the problem before reading the verdicts or while the jury is being polled. Sometimes, the light bulb takes just a bit longer to come on. Whether the court can quickly bring the jury back into the courtroom before everybody gets away avoids potential appellate issues or both sides being stuck with a verdict that is clearly wrong. (Of course, on the criminal side, there may be additional double jeopardy concerns once the flawed verdict is accepted.)

Probably will not be a sentencing issue on the federal side, but could see it potentially having a sentencing impact in some states.

Posted by: tmm | Jan 19, 2016 3:35:50 PM

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