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Upcoming Supreme Court Arguments

The crew down in Columbus is going to be busy this week, hearing oral arguments in nine cases.  One of them is on an appeal from a medical malpractice case in which the 1st District court of appeals reversed a defense verdict because of improper conduct of the defense lawyer, marking the third time in three years that this same court had reversed this same lawyer for this same thing.  (It later reversed yet another defense verdict by this lawyer on the same grounds.)  Sending a message, are we?  The court summarized the offending remarks thusly:

The trial court in a medical malpractice action erred by permitting defense counsel to make improper and inflammatory remarks to the jury during the trial to the effect that the minor plaintiff's "shameful" parents had manufactured her claim after seven years of researching the symptoms of meningitis and, with the help of plaintiffs' counsel, were able to "truck in 55 people and pay them $ 8,000 apiece" to say "something made up" to get a "$ 2,000,000 paycheck," and to "blow" the "good doctor" away and end her ability to practice medicine, and that the jury would condone "this type of conduct" by returning a verdict in the plaintiffs' favor

Oooh, where's the love?  You can read the case here

Another interesting case coming up for argument is one out of Cuyahoga County, where the court threw out a search based on non-compliance with the knock and announce rule.  The US Supreme Court has since ruled that the exclusionary rule shouldn't be applied to no-knock cases, so the chances of this one being affirmed are about as good as Jessica Simpson's chances of getting into MENSA.

Lastly, the Federal Sentencing Commission had hearings on Tuesday on the advisability of one of the most criticized provisions of Federal criminal law:  the disparate sentences for crack and powder cocaine.  Under that law, someone possessing 5,000 grams of powder cocaine -- about 12 pounds worth -- can get 10 years in prison.  Someone possessing only 50 grams of crack cocaine -- about the size of a candy bar -- is subject to the same penalty.  Ohio law also treats the two separately, although it has only a 5-1 difference instead of a 100-1.  For that reason, it's unlikely that Ohio law would be changed even if the Federal law was.

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