Two of the most anticipated Supeme Court cases in recent years are Rita v. US and Claiborne v. US. As I mentioned a couple weeks back, they're the first post-Booker decisions to come down, and it's expected that they will clarify the exact status of the sentencing guidelines, something that the appellate courts have been wrestling with since Booker was handed down in January of 2005. The Court had argument on the two cases in February, and a decision is expected any day now.
Except that last week, Claiborne went and got himself killed in an attempted robbery, thereby mooting his case. There are other cases in the pipeline which raise the same issue, and the court could even decide one of those cases without oral argument and announce it at the same time as they would have announced Claiborne, simply substituting one set of facts for the other. But I'm pretty sure this is a Supreme Court first.
Closer to home, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the law requiring a change of circumstances for custody modification. As between parents, the law raises no problems. In Re Braden James, custody had been awarded to the maternal grandparents, and the biological parents sought custody, claiming that the requirement of proving a change of circumstances interfered with their constitutional right to raise their children. The appellate court bought that contention, but the Supremes rejected it by a 4-3 vote. There's some interesting issues floating around there, and I'll do a post on it in the next week or so. On to the appellate courts:
1st District holds that proof of firearm specification can be proved without "overt act" (such as reaching into pocket) by defendant... 10th District upholds admissibility of defendant's calling co-defendant a "snitch" as showing consciousness of guilt... 8th District affirms summary judgment dismissing case brought by gas dealers complaining that Shell Oil charged them higher wholesale prices because they were minorities... 12th District holds that temporary employment agency had no duty to run criminal check on employees, affirms summary judgment for agency on claim of assault by employee... 9th District upholds child pornography statutes against attack that difficulty distinguishing between virtual and actual child pornography makes them void for vagueness... 5th District holds that employee's driving drunk seventy miles from her route was criminal act not within the scope of her employment, affirms summary judgement in personal injury case against her employee...
Talk about client control. From the 6th District's decision last week in State v. Phillips:
After being sworn, appellant testified that the appointed attorney, Scott Hicks, who represented appellant at the time that he entered his guilty plea, threatened to throw appellant out the window if he did not listen to the attorney.