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Case Update

The US Supreme Court's term opened last week with oral argument in several high-profile cases; perhaps the biggest was US v. Stevens, which tests the constitutionality of a law passed by Congress to ban videos depicting the killing or serious abusing of live animals.  Stevens had gotten three-plus years for making a video of pit balls mauling each other -- 14 months longer than Michael Vick got for actually having pit bulls maul each other.  Despite the fact that the statute contains an exemption for depictions which have "religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical, or artistic value," it's fairly clear that the statute's in trouble; the only real mauling in oral argument was of the deputy solicitor general in his defense of it.  The most interesting aspect of the argument was Justice Alito's intriguing hypothetical as to whether Congress could ban a pay-per-view channel showing human sacrifices.  I guess he's never seen an Ultimate Fighting Championship contest.

The other argument of note was Maryland v. Schatzer.  Schatzer invoked his Miranda rights when first interviewed by the police in 2003, but made a statement when the police returned to prison to interrogate him again in 2006.  Under Edwards v. Arizona, police can't resume interrogation after a defendant clams up unless the defendant initiates the communications.  The question in Schatzer is whether time alone eliminates Edwards' protection.  The government focused on the claim that some "break in custody" rule was necessary to prevent a defendant from being perpetually immune from further questioning, but, despite Scalia's urging that the police be given a clear standard, nobody seemed to have any real idea of what that meant in concete terms. 

Nothing going on in Columbus, so let's head to the courts of appeals...

Criminal.  1st District holds that felonious assault and firing into a habitation are not allied offenses, and also holds that defendant can be convicted of two counts of felonious assault if he fires a single shot at multiple possible victims... Trial court could have reasonably concluded that detective gave defendant his Miranda rights when he claimed he read rights from card given to him by prosecutor's office, even though card, specific warnings, not introduced in evidence, 2nd District rules... 10th District says that failure to register as a sex offender is a strict liability offense... 3rd District affirms denial of motion to suppress results of breathalyzer, says defendant couldn't raise issue of whether test was taken in accordance with health department regulations because motion didn't specify that as a basis... 12th District upholds trial court's denial of motion to sever five counts of child rape involving different victims at different times, says evidence of each was sufficiently "simple and direct" so as to avoid danger of jury's regarding evidence as cumulative... 5th District goes along with trend of waiting for Ohio Supreme Court to sort out effect of Ice v. Oregon on State v. Foster re consecutive sentences...

Civil.  Plaintiff has one year from time of filing complaint to substitute real party for John Doe defendant, says 2nd District... 9th District affirms order compelling defendant company to produce statements made to its insurer over claims that such statements protected by work product doctrine, says no evidence that statements were gathered in anticipation of litigation...  

I know you can get screwed on a mortgage, but... In Chase Mortgage v. Coleman, the 8th District affirms the grant of summary judgment to the mortgage company on the homeowner's counterclaims, one of which was for "lack of consortium."

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