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Supreme Court Recap - 2008 Term

It's that time of year again.  Here's my wrap-up of the just-concluded Supreme Court term, focusing on criminal cases and some others of note.  They're arranged alphabetically, and include links to the opinions, as well as to other posts I've written discussing them in more detail.  (Some weren't discussed at all; in others, I did a post on both oral argument and when the decision came down; and in others, I did multiple posts.)

It might be a good idea to bookmark this post for future reference.  If you don't, you can get back here again by putting "supreme court recap" in the search box on the right and clicking "Search."  It'll take you to this post, as well as the one I did last year summarizing the 2007-2008 term.

Arizona v. Gant - Court essentially overrules New York v. Belton and holds that when defendant is arrested and removed from car, vehicle cannot be searched unless "the arrestee is within reaching distance of the passenger compartment at the time of the search, or it is reasonable to believe the vehicle contains evidence of the offense of arrest."  (Oral argument discussed here; opinion discussed here.)

Arizona v. Johnson  - If traffic stop is valid, police may frisk passenger if they have reasonable suspicion he's armed and dangerous, even if passenger had nothing to do with reason for stop.  (Oral argument here; opinion here; .)

Boyle v. US - Major case explaining the "enterprise" element in the RICO statute; Court rejects defendant's claim that "enterprise must have an ascertainable structure beyond that inherent in the pattern of racketeering activity in which it engages."

Caperton v. Massey Coal Co. - Court holds that state supreme court judge's failure to recuse himself in case of major campaign contributor violated other party's due process rights.  (Discussed here.)

Corley v. US - Court reaffirms McNabb-Mallory rule, which provides that confessions made during period of detention that violates Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 5(a), which requires that arrestee must be taken "without unreasonable delay" before a magistrate.

District Attorney v. Osborne - Court holds that there is no constitutional right to DNA testing after conviction; whether and in what circumstances such testing should be allowed is up to the state legislatures.

FCC v. Fox - Court upholds FCC's "fleeting expletives" policy use of single profanity on television, but does so purely on administrative law grounds; doesn't address 1st Amendment issue.  (Brief discussions of oral argument here and opinion here.)

Herring v. US - Police error in removing invalid warrant from database did not affect validity of defendant's arrest on that warrant; exclusionary rule does not apply to police negligence in maintaining data.  (Oral argument here; opinion here.)

Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts - Crawford v. Washington prohibits the introduction of lab reports into evidence without the testimony of the person who performed the tests.  (Oral argument here; opinion here; further discussion here.)

Montejo v. Louisiana - Court overrules Michigan v. Jackson, which established rule that once defendant asserts right to counsel at a court appearance, the police can't initiate any further interrogation of him.  Police must still advise defendant of his Miranda rights, and if he invokes those rights, can't resume interrogation unless defendant initiates it.  (Discussed here.)

Nelson v. US - Presumption that sentence within guidelines is reasonable only applies to appellate review; trial court erred in treating guidelines as presumptively reasonable.

Oregon v. Ice - In a decision that could have major implications for Ohio sentencing law, Court holds that Blakely does not prohibit judicial fact-finding for imposition of consecutive sentences.  (Opinion here; further discussion of effect on State v. Foster here and here.)

Pearson v. Callahan - In civil case, Court evades question of validity of "consent once removed" doctrine under 4th Amendment by holding that case law on doctrine was sufficiently unclear that officers had qualified immunity; also contains excellent discussion of when precedents should be overruled.  (Discussed here.)

Puckett v. US - Defendant who argues that government violated a plea bargain waives it by not raising it in trial court.  Case contains a good discussion of concept of plain error.

Safford v. Redding - Court holds that school district erred in strip-searching 13-year-old girl for prescription medication, determines that facts don't support even lesser standard for school searches.  (Oral argument here; opinion here.)

US v. Hayes - Federal law prohibits a person convicted of "a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence" from possessing a gun.  In Hayes, the Court holds that the predicate crime need not include a domestic relationship as an element.  In other words, if a defendant is charged with domestic violence, but pleads guilty to simple assault, the government can look at the underlying facts to convict of the federal offense.  (Brief discussions here and here.)


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