Supreme Court backs trial judges on juror dismissal decisions

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] handed down decisions in three argued cases Monday, including Uttecht v. Brown [Duke Law case backgrounder] where the Court held that federal courts reviewing claims that a juror was improperly dismissed due to their views on capital punishment "owe deference to the trial court, which is in a superior position to determine the demeanor and qualifications of a potential juror." The Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit's decision [PDF text] in the case. Read the Court's 5-4 opinion [text] per Justice Kennedy, along with a dissent [text] from Justice Stevens, and a second dissent [text] from Justice Breyer. AP has more.

In Safeco Insurance v. Burr [Duke Law case backgrounder; JURIST report], the Court held that initial rates charged for new insurance policies may be considered adverse actions under the Fair Credit Reporting Act [PDF text] that a company can be found to have violated the FCRA for both knowing violations of the law and for reckless disregard of the FCRA requirement that a consumer subjected to "adverse action" based on information contained in their consumer credit report be notified of the adverse action. Read the Court's opinion [text] per Justice Souter, along with a concurrence [text] from Justice Stevens, and a second concurrence [text] from Justice Thomas. AP has more.

In the final decision in an argued case, the Court held in Sole v. Wyner [Duke Law case backgrounder] that a party cannot be awarded attorneys' fees in an action brought under 42 USC 1983 [text] when the party wins a preliminary injunction in the case but does not ultimately win on the merits. The Supreme Court reversed the Eleventh Circuit's decision [PDF text] in the case, ruling that "a final decision on the merits denying permanent injunctive relief ordinarily determines who prevails in the action for purposes of §1988(b). A plaintiff who achieves a transient victory at the threshold of an action can gain no award under that fee-shifting provision if, at the end of the litigation, her initial success is undone and she leaves the courthouse emptyhanded." Read the Court's unanimous opinion [text] per Justice Ginsburg.

The Court also issued a per curiam decision [text] in Erickson v. Pardus, ruling that the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit erred in concluding that William Erikson's allegations that a prison doctor's decision to stop his Hepatitis C treatment caused Erikson substantial harm were too conclusory under pleading standards set forth in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) [text]. Justice Scalia would have denied the petition for a writ of certiorari and Justice Thomas issued a dissent [text] in the case.

Lastly, Claiborne v. United States [Duke Law case backgrounder; JURIST report] was dismissed [PDF text] as moot because the petitioner in the case died last week. The case involved the federal sentencing guidelines and questioned whether a sentence substantially lower than the minimum suggested by the guidelines could only be justified by extraordinary situations.



 

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.