United States Supreme Court

Opinions Filed in 2011

October 18 summaries

Setser v. United States

Whether a federal district court properly ordered a federal sentence to run consecutively to a not-yet-imposed state sentence.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Sentencing

Douglas v. Indep. Living Center Of S. Ca; Douglas v. Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital

Whether Medicaid recipients and providers maintain a cause of action under the Supremacy Clause to enforce certain provisions of the Medicaid Act.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Preemption

Reynolds v. United States

Whether standing may be established under plain reading of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) to challenge an interim rule applying the statute retroactively to parties who committed the offense prior to the statute’s enactment.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Standing

Howes v. Fields

Whether police are required to issue Miranda warnings to an incarcerated prisoner during a criminal investigation of an unrelated offense.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Procedure

Maples v. Thomas

Whether there is “cause” to excuse a procedural default where petitioner is blameless for the default, the state's own conduct contributed to the default, and petitioner's attorneys of record were no longer functioning as his agents at the time of any default.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Procedure

Martinez v. Ryan

Whether a state criminal defendant has a federal constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel on the first post-conviction relief (PCR) appeal that regards an ineffective assistance of counsel claim when state law prohibits raising a direct appeal for ineffective assistance of trial counsel but has a state-law right to raise such a claim in a first post-conviction proceeding.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Procedure

Golan v. Holder

Whether the Copyright Clause and the First Amendment prohibit Congress from removing works that were previously placed in the public domain.

Area(s) of Law:
  • First Amendment

Hosanna-Tabor Church v. EEOC

Whether the ministerial exception to employment law litigation applies to an employee of a religious organization whose job duties include secular and religious activities.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Employment Law

CompuCredit Corp. v. Greenwood

(Whether the Credit Repair Organization Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1679 creates a non-waivable right that prevents the enforcement of an arbitration clause.)

Area(s) of Law:
  • Contract Law

Greene v. Fisher

Whether a Supreme Court decision announced after a state intermediate court's decision, but before a state supreme court’s denial of discretionary review qualifies as “clearly established Federal law” under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).

Area(s) of Law:
  • Habeas Corpus

Pacific Operators Offshore v. Valladolid

(Whether an offshore oil worker injured at an onshore processing site falls under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.)

Area(s) of Law:
  • Tort Law

Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Burlington

(Whether the Fourth Amendment permits a jail to conduct a strip search of individual's arrested for civil contempt.)

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Procedure

Judulang v. Holder

(Whether a lawful permanent resident convicted of an offense that renders him deportable and excludeable under different statutory subsections, but did not depart or reenter the United States after conviction, is categorically foreclosed from seeking discretionary relief under former Section § 212(c) of the Immigration and Nationalty Act)

Area(s) of Law:
  • Immigration

Elgin v. Department of the Treasury

Whether the Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA) prevents Federal District Courts from having jurisdiction over constitutional challenges to employment dismissals under the Military Selective Services Act (MSSA).

Area(s) of Law:
  • Employment Law

Kobel v. Dutch Petroleum

(1) Whether the question of corporate civil tort liability under the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”), 28 U.S.C. §1350, is a question of merits or one of subject matter jurisdiction; and (2) whether a corporation may be held liable for a tort committed in violation of the law of nations, such as torture or genocide, under the ATS like any other private party defendant or whether they are immune from such liability.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Corporations

Cavazos v. Smith

HABEAS CORPUS (Certiorari granted and the judgment of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cavazos v. Smith is reversed)

Area(s) of Law:
  • Habeas Corpus

Lafler v. Cooper

Whether a defendant is entitled to federal habeas relief based on ineffective assistance of counsel when counsel provided objectively unreasonable advice that caused the defendant to reject a plea deal, and, if so, whether the appropriate remedy is a court order that the State either offer specific performance of the rejected deal or release the defendant from custody.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Post-Conviction Relief

Missouri v. Frye

Whether trial counsel’s failure to disclose an offer made during plea negotiations to his client amounts to ineffective assistance of counsel when the defendant later pled guilty and was sentenced to less favorable terms.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Post-Conviction Relief

November 21 summaries

Minneci v. Pollard

Bivens Actions: Whether a federal inmate who has adequate remedies under state law may bring a Bivens action against employees of a private corrections company that contracts with the federal government for prison services.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Rehberg v. Paulk

Whether a government official is entitled to absolutely immunity from a section 1983 claim for damages when their false testimony to a grand jury caused the prosecution of an innocent individual.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Procedure

Gonzalez v. Thaler

Whether the AEDPA’s one-year statute of limitations for an application for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 should be calculated based on “the date on which the judgment became final” as held by the 8th Circuit or “the expiration of the time for seeking such review” as held by the 5th Circuit.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Habeas Corpus

Perry v. New Hampshire

Whether a defendant may exclude eyewitness identification stemming from impermissibly suggestive circumstances, regardless of improper state conduct related to that identification, based on the protections of due process.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Evidence

Bobby v. Dixon

Antiterrrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) provides that a state prisoner seeking a writ of habeas corpus from a federal court “must show that the state court’s ruling on the claim being presented in federal court was so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement.”

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Procedure

Jackson v. Hobbs

Whether sentencing a fourteen year old to life imprisonment without possibility of parole after being convicted of aggravated murder constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Law

Kawashima v. Holder

Whether petitioners' convictions for tax crimes constituted aggravated felonies under 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43)(M)(i), and thus subjected them to deportation under 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii).

Area(s) of Law:
  • Immigration

KPMG LLP v. Robert Cocchi et al.

When a complaint contains both arbitrable and nonarbitrable claims, the Federal Arbitration Act requires courts to compel arbitration of the arbitrable claims.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution

Magner v. Gallagher

Discrimination: (Whether a disparate impact claim may be brought under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and, if so, what approach should the Court use to analyze such a claim.)

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Law

Miller v. Alabama

Whether a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is cruel and usual punishment under the Eighth Amendment when the offender was fourteen years old at the time of the criminal action.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Law

Zivotofsky v. Clinton

(1) Whether a suit requiring a federal court to order the State Department to adhere to a Congressional statute requiring official government documents identify Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is a justiciable issue, (2) Whether Section 214 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2003, impermissibly infringes the President's power to recognize foreign sovereigns.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Greene v. Fisher

(For the purpose of adjudicating a state prisoner’s petition for federal habeas relief, the temporal cutoff for whether a decision from the Supreme Court qualifies as “clearly established Federal law” is the time of the relevant state-court adjudication on the merits.)

Area(s) of Law:
  • Habeas Corpus

Smith v. Cain

Whether Louisiana state courts erred when they rejected petitioner's Brady v. Maryland claims that the district attorney failed to produce evidence favorable to the accused and thus violated his due process rights.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Procedure

U.S. v. Jones

Whether the government violated respondent’s Fourth Amendment rights by attaching a GPS tracking device to his vehicle and monitoring his movements on public streets without a valid warrant and without his consent.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Procedure

Kurns v. Railroad Friction Products Corp

Whether the Locomotive Inspection Act (“LIA”), which regulates the “use” of a locomotive on a railroad line 49 U.S.C. § 20701, preempts the field of state common-law product liability claims by workers injured in railroad maintenance facilities.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Preemption

Nat’l Meat Ass’n v. Harris

PREEMPTION (Whether federal regulations authorized by the Federal Meat Inspection Act (21 U.S.C. § 601, et seq.) that require slaughterhouses to hold nonambulatory animals for observation for evidence of disease preempts a state law that requires such animals be immediately killed.)

Area(s) of Law:
  • Preemption

First American Financial Corp. v. Edwards

Whether a private purchaser of real estate settlement services has Article III standing to sue for a RESPA violation when that violation does not affect the price or the quality of the services provided.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Standing

Mims v. Arrow Financial Services, LLC

Whether Congress divested federal district courts of federal-question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 with respect to private actions brought under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Procedure

Vasquez v. United States

Whether it is reversible error in a criminal case for a trial court to admit recordings of a conversation for the truth of the matter where the witness admits the point on which the government seeks to establish bias, where a logical inference is necessary to establish an inconsistent statement, and where the statements otherwise constitute inadmissible hearsay.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Evidence

Credit Suisse Securities v. Simmonds

Whether the two year statute of limitations in section 16(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 is subject to tolling, and if so, when does tolling begin.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Civil Procedure

Hall v. United States

Whether a debtor must pay federal income tax on capital gains from the sale of their farm during bankruptcy proceedings.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Bankruptcy Law

December 9 summaries

Caraco v. Novo Nordisk

Whether the provision in the Hatch-Waxman Act allowing generic drug manufacturers to “counterclaim” and seek an FDA order requiring changes by the patent holder applies to (1) approved methods of use of the drug and (2) corrections to the patent’s scope.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Administrative Law

Messerschmidt v. Millender

1. Whether police officers are entitled to qualified immunity when they obtained a facially valid warrant but failed to find that for which they were searching. 2. Whether the Malley/Leon standards for excluding evidence in a criminal proceeding or imposing civil liability under 42 U.S.C. §1983 should be reconsidered or clarified.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Criminal Procedure

Reichle v. Howards

((1): Whether the existence of probable cause to make an arrest bars a First Amendment retaliatory arrest claim; and (2): Whether Secret Service agents should receive qualified and absolute immunity when making split second decisions when protecting the Vice President or the President).

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Martel v. Clair

Whether a condemned state prisoner in a federal habeas proceeding is entitled to replace his court appointed attorney with another court appointed attorney based on his dissatisfaction with the initial attorney's performance.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Habeas Corpus

Williams v. Illinois

Whether a state violates a criminal defendant's constitutional right to be confronted with the witnesses against him when it allows an expert to testify about DNA reports prepared by analysts who do not appear at trial.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Evidence

Mayo v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc

Whether the correlation between blood test results and patient health is patentable.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Patents

PPL Montana v. Montana

(Whether the constitutional test for determining if a river is navigable for title purposes requires an inquiry into whether the stretch in controversy was navigable at the time that the State joined the Union or whether the appropriate test is whether the river as a whole is navigable based on present day use)

Area(s) of Law:
  • Constitutional Law

Hardy v. Cross

Certiorari granted and the judgment of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Cross v. Hardy is reversed.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Habeas Corpus

Judulang v. Holder

The BIA’s policy for applying §212(c) in deportation cases is “arbitrary and capricious” under the Administrative Procedures Act.

Area(s) of Law:
  • Immigration