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Case Update

Busy week for the Supreme Court.  The one in DC, that is.  In addition to the big decision in Michigan v. Bryant on the scope of Crawford v. Washington, which we'll discuss on Wednesday, there were a spate of other decisions as well.  In Pepper v. US, the Court held that post-sentencing rehabilitation could indeed be considered for sentencing purposes.  When I'd discussed the case briefly here, I'd suggested that regardless of the law, that would be the right result, and six of the eight justices agreed.  (Justice Kagan recused herself, as she has in about a third of the decisions so far, because of her prior status as solicitor general.)  In Snyder v. Phelps, the court handed down a widely-anticipated result, that the First Amendment protected the members of the Westboro Baptist Church, whose belief system leads them to the lunatic conclusion that God is punishing America because of its tolerance of homosexuals, which results in them picketing the funerals of American soldiers killed in Iraq or Afghanistan with signs proclaiming that "God Hates Fags."  For good or ill, one does not need to pass an IQ or logic test before asserting his free speech rights, and only Justice Alito could be found in dissent. 

In FCC v. AT&T, the latter company had claimed that certain of its records shouldn't be subject to discovery under the Freedom of Information Act on the grounds that disclosure would "constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy," one of the grounds specified for exemption in the Act.  The court unanimously rejected the argument that a corporation was entitled to privacy under this theory, and just to show that it has a sense of humor, concluded the opinion thusly:

The protection in FOIA against disclosure of law enforcement information on the ground that it wouldconstitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy does not extend to corporations.  We trust that AT&T will not take it personally.

No laughs to be found in any of the opinions out of Columbus.  No opinions, for that matter, although there were some interesting oral arguments, which we'll discuss on Thursday.  On to the courts of appeals...

Criminal.  8th District says that standard for stop for traffic violation requires only reasonable suspicion, not probable cause to believe that violation has occurred... 6th District reminds us that observation that motorist has crossed right edge line of roadway, without any other evidence of erratic driving or that the crossing was done in unsafe manner, permits a traffic stop... Where defendant does not show for sentencing, State no longer bound by original plea agreement, 3rd District rules... Journal entry did not state reason for continuance, so it doesn't toll time for speedy trial, says 1st District... Charge on lesser included offenses not required where defendant completely denies any involvement in crime, 8th District holds... No Crawford violation where school principal and victim, both of whom spoke on 911 call, testified at trial, 9th District points out... In followup to State v. Speer (discussed here), 10th District affirms removal of hearing-impaired juror, on basis that inflections of voices in recorded telephone conversations between defendant and girlfriend could have been important in determining evidentiary value of conversations... Weaknesses in chain of custody go to weight, not admissibility of evidence, says 3rd District...

Civil.  Award for employment discrimination is for loss of wages, shouldn't be treated as separate property in divorce award, as award for personal injury would be, says 8th District... Failure of defendant to reply to request for admissions conclusively established liability, 9th District rules... Appeal from writ of restitution in forcible entry action becomes moot if tenant moves out of property and possession is restored to landlord, 8th District holds... County entitled to sovereign immunity where claimant slipped and fell down courthouse steps; although dust from renovation caused her fall, claimant was mere licensee, county owned duty only to refrain from wanton or willful misconduct, and complaint didn't allege that... Trial court didn't err in deciding surviving spouse was unsuitable to act as administrator of estate, even though she had priority, where her interests were in conflict with those of estate, 5th District holds...

No mention of whether he was wearing his tinfoil hat when they took his drivers license photo.  The factual recitation from the 6th District's decision in State v. Bell, picking up after Trooper Borton stopped the defendant for speeding and having an expired sticker:

Upon approaching the vehicle, Borton asked to see appellant's driver's license, registration and proof of insurance. Appellant produced none of these items. Instead, appellant produced "an international identification card" that identified him as Aayan Naim Bey.  The card also claimed appellant is a Moorish Aboriginal, a supposed government group that, he asserted, trumped the law of the United States.  At no time did appellant accurately identify himself as Calvin Bell.

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