Supreme Court agrees to hear five cases including recusal, double jeopardy appeals

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] granted certiorari [order list, PDF] in five cases Friday. In Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Company [docket; cert. petition, PDF] the Court will consider whether a decision by West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Justice Brent Benjamin [official profile] not to recuse himself from hearing a case against a financial contributor to his campaign violated the Due Process [LII backgrounder] rights of the plaintiff in the case. Opposing review, counsel for A.T. Massey argued [opposition brief, PDF] that Benjamin was not required to recuse himself because the donations were made by an officer of the company rather than the company itself and that they were made before he became a member of the court. The NYU Brennan Center for Justice and American Bar Assosciation [briefs, PDF] were among the groups which filed amicus briefs supporting review by the Court.

In Yeager v. United States [docket; cert. petition, PDF] the Court will consider whether a criminal defendant can face new prosecution for counts on which a jury did not reach a verdict but that are related to other counts of which the defendant has been acquitted. Petitioners in the case argue that the Court should determine whether such prosecution would violate the Double Jeopardy Clause [LII backgrounder] of the Fifth Amendment because federal circuit courts disagreed on the issue. Attorneys for the Justice Department opposed [opposition brief, PDF] the review.

In Abuelhawa v. United States [docket; cert. petition, PDF] the Court will consider whether a defendant who used a cellphone for the misdemeanor purchase of cocaine can be charged with felony for using a "communication facility" to facilitate the distribution of an illegal drug under 21 USC § 843(b) [text]. The defendant argues that the provision should only apply to distributors of the drugs and not who purchase them for personal use. Attorneys for the Justice Department opposed [opposition brief, PDF] the review.

In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission [docket; cert. petition, PDF] the Court will consider whether a film critical of Senator Hillary Clinton is considered a political advertisement under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 [materials]. The petitioner in the case argues that a Supreme Court ruling on what constitutes "electioneering communications" under the law was not entirely defined by a 2003 Supreme Court decision in McConnell v. FEC [opinion text]. The Federal Election Committee (FEC) opposed [opposition brief, PDF] the review.

In Dean v. United States [docket; cert. petition, PDF] the Court will consider whether the accidental discharge of a firearm during the commission of a felony crime subjects a defendant to a 10-year minimum sentence for the crime. Under 18 USC 924(c)(1)(A)(iii) [text] , the increased sentence attaches when a firearm is discharged, but the defendant argues that there must also be some showing that the discharge was intentional. Attorneys for the Justice Department opposed [opposition brief, PDF] the review, arguing that no such requirement was included in the statute.

 

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