Fall 2002

Supreme Court to Decide Several Cases of Concern to
Section in 2002-03 Term

The U. S. Supreme Court will open its 2002-03 term on Monday, Oct. 7, with a docket that already includes several cases concerning issues of importance to the Section.

  Among the oral arguments the Court will hear on Oct. 7 are those in Miller-El v. Cockrell (01-7662), in which the Court is to decide whether the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit erred in denying a certificate of appealability and in evaluating petitioner’s claim under Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U. S. 9 (1986) in which the Court held that removal of potential jurors must be race-neutral.

  On Nov. 4, the Court will hear arguments in Sattazahn v. Pennsylvania (01-7574), in which it is to determine whether the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause prohibits imposing a sentence of death upon an individual who, after being sentenced to life imprisonment as a matter of law following the sentencing jury's inability to reach a verdict, obtained reversal of his conviction on appeal and is convicted again of capital murder in a retrial.

  In Ewing v. California (01-6978) and Lockyer v. Andrade (01-1127), both of which will be heard on Nov. 5, the Court will decide whether California's "three-strikes" law, which mandates a 25-years-to-life prison term for a third criminal conviction, violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment when applied to an offender whose "third strike" conviction is for petty theft, with a prior theft-related conviction.

  On Nov. 6, the Court will hear arguments in Abdur’Rahman v. Bell (01-9094), to decide whether a defendant convicted of capital murder is entitled to relief if the death sentence he received resulted from egregious prosecutorial misconduct, including deliberate falsification of evidence.

 On Nov. 13, the Court will hear arguments in two cases involving sex offender registration. The first, Connecticut Department of Public Safety v. Doe (01-1231), concerns whether Connecticut’s sex offender registration law violates procedural due process if an offender is not given an opportunity to be heard by a court to determine his future dangerousness before being included in the registry. The second case, Otte v. Doe (01-729), questions whether Alaska's Sex Offender Registration Act, on its face or as implemented, imposes punishment that implicates the ex post facto clause of Article I, Section 8 of the U. S. Constitution, to the extent that Alaska seeks to impose the punishment upon sex offenders whose crimes were committed before the statute's enactment.

  Other docketed cases in which oral argument is not yet scheduled include:

  • State of Virginia v. Black (01-1107), involving whether a state statute that criminalizes cross-burning unconstitutionally infringes upon freedom of speech. Black was indicted under the statute, which makes burning a cross on someone else’s property a "class 6" felony, even if the owner had granted them permission to do so. Virginia is appealing a State Supreme Court ruling overturning the conviction on the ground that the statute criminalizes freedom of expression protected by the First Amendment.

  • Washington Legal Foundation v. Legal Foundation of WA (01-1325) – whether the regulatory scheme for funding state legal services by systematically seizing funds from the Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts (IOLTA) violates the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause.

  • Scheidler v. NOW (01-1118) and Operation Rescue v. NOW (01-1119), whether the National Organization of Women (NOW) can seek injunctive relief under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute in a civil trial that concerns the right of clinics to provide abortion services and the right of women to receive such services. At trial, Scheidler and Operation Rescue were found to have violated RICO by using violence, intimidation, and extortion to impede provision of abortion services. The U. S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed.

Advertisement