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OT 11

Southern Union Company v. United States, USSC No. 11-94, 6/21/12, reversing 630 F.3d 17 (1st Cir 2010) Criminal fines, no less than length of imprisonment, come within the “Apprendi” doctrine, such that a fine beyond the maximum statutory amount must be based on facts decided by the jury. Southern Union was tried for violating environmental laws carrying a fine of… Read More

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First Amendment – Stolen Valor Act

United States v. Alvarez, USSC No. 11-210 (6/28/12), affirming 638 F.3d 666 (9th Cir. 2011). The Nation well knows that one of the costs of the First Amendment is that it protects the speech we detest as well as the speech we embrace.  Though few might find respondent’s statements anything but contemptible, his right to… Read More

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Evan Miller v. Alabama, USSC No. 10-9646 / Kuntrell Jackson v. Hobbs, No. 10-9647, 6/25/12,  reversing 63 So. 3d 676 (Ala. Crim. App. 2010) The two 14-year-old offenders in these cases were convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. In neither case did the sentencing authority have any discretion to… Read More

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Confrontation – Expert Testimony

Sandy Williams v. Illinois, USSC No. 10-8505, 6/18/12, affirming People v. Williams, 238 Ill. 2d 125, 939 N.E. 268 A split Court (4-1-4) upholds against Confrontation objection, admissibility of expert testimony that a DNA profile, produced by a different lab, matched Williams’ profile. Because the rationale favoring admissibility doesn’t earn a clear majority of votes, the opinion… Read More

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Parker v. David Eugene Matthews, USSC No. 11-845, 6/11/12, reversing 651 F.3d 489 (6th Cir. 2011) In this habeas case, the United States Court of Ap- peals for the Sixth Circuit set aside two 29-year-old murder convictions based on the flimsiest of rationales. The court’s decision is a textbook example of what the Antiterrorism and… Read More

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Coleman v. Lorenzo Johnson, USSC No. 11-1053, 5/29/12 (per curiam), reversing 446 Fed. Appx. 531 (3rd Cir. 2011) We have made clear that Jackson claims face a high bar in federal habeas proceedings because they are subject to two layers of judicial deference. First, on direct appeal, “it is the responsibility of the jury—not the… Read More

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Alex Blueford v. Arkansas, USSC No. 10-1320, 5/24/12, affirming 2011 Ark. 8 Double Jeopardy doesn’t bar retrial on greater offenses, despite jury foreperson’s report of unanimous votes against those charges, after ensuing deadlock resulted in mistrial. Blueford’s primary submission is that he cannot be retried for capital and first-degree murder because the jury actually acquitted… Read More

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Holder v. Carlos Martinez Gutierrez, USSC No. 10-1542, 5/21/12, reversing 411 Fed. Appx. 121 and 399 Fed. Appx. 313 The Attorney General has discretion under 8 U.S.C. §1229b(a) to allow otherwise-removable aliens to remain in the U.S., if the alien satisfies three criteria: minimum of five years as a lawful permanent resident; continuous residence in the U.S. for at least seven… Read More

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