Archive for the ‘Fantasy Supreme Court League’ Category


WHAT HAPPENED: Appellant was convicted of selling meth in order to pay off treatment of cancer because apparently selling meth is lucrative.  Appellant was accused of being in a conspiracy with a former student of his with clever catch-phrases with a relative of his who kept all the money they made.  After getting caught, Appellant murdered his brother in law, went into hiding, and returned only to exact revenge on a collection of side characters and murder a warehouse full of Neo-Nazi’s was hit with a $75,0000.00 restitution order that he could not afford, because he never received any of the money that was earned in the conspiracy.

WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT:  Joint and several liability is a legal doctrine that states if more than one person is liable for a monetary amount, than each of those people are liable for the amount owed in full.   In other words, if three people are liable for $100K, then each of them could be liable for the full amount, and it does not have to be split in thirds.  Appellant here argues that it is unfair to be joint and severally liable for the restitution order because he did not actually receive the money he is liable for.  The background of the law is that conspiracy defendants are always joint and severally liable, but a weird case out of D.C. has cast doubt on whether that applies universally or if there are exceptions.

WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS – It is unlikely that the Court is going to strike down all joint and several liability, but more likely that the Court is going to clarify the weird D.C. Court case stated above.  That case in question dealt with millions of dollars in a vast drug dealing conspiracy, so it is both factually and legally distinguishable from the present issue.  Also, the government has argued that removing joint and several liability would make recouping conspiracy funds impossible, since people could just say “I don’t have it”, and give that money to someone else.  For those reasons, should the defendant win somehow, it is more likely to be on a factual nuance in this case, rather than a substantial change in the law.

ROOT FOR HONEYCUTT IF: you feel this case is pretty lame as far as Breaking Bad fan-fiction goes.

ROOT FOR U.S. IF: you know you can’t get blood from a stone, but still like to give it a squeeze.




WHAT HAPPENED: The Plaintiffs are the parents of a Mexican teenager who was shot by a U.S. border guard standing on U.S. soil.  Plaintiffs are suing the Defendant (the guard) for Constitutional claims related to the shooting.

WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT:  Plaintiffs filed their lawsuit in the United States, and the Defendant has taken every action imaginable to dismiss the case, including arguing that the jurisdiction is wrong for a 4th amendment claim, that the Bivens analysis is incorrect, and that Defendant is immune because there is no precedent saying you can’t shoot non-citizens across the border (which is factually right, but it’s not like shooting people is ever OK).  Defendant has won at the lower level, so the case was dismissed.

WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS – There is a legal axiom that says “bad cases make bad law”.  While it is easy to look at this case and say “you shouldn’t people” (which is most of the Plaintiff’s arguments), if you stretch the borders and the rules for this case, you end up complicating other issues where a strict application of border lines and qualified immunity make sense.  The balance here is whether it is better for the Court to try to craft a rule that best resolves this question, or whether it is better to just make an unfair ruling in this case and keep the rules as is.  Adding complication to this case is the fact that an amicus brief from Border Guards have advocated for liability in this case, as the dangerous environment surrounding the border needs more civil liability to keep things under control.  Not to say that is going to sway things, but it adds context to where the situation is and why the Plaintiffs’ arguments make more sense the more you hear about facts of the case.

ROOT FOR HERNANDEZ IF: shooting people isn’t OK.

ROOT FOR MESA IF: shooting people is OK if you have a bunch of dumb rules in place to protect you.



WHAT HAPPENED: The Appellants were convicted of criminal charges and paid fines.  Appellants subsequently won their appeal and their convictions were overturned.  Appellant asked for their fees back, but Colorado said they had to go to civil court and prove their innocence by clear and convincing evidence to get their money back.


(reads facts again)

HAHAHA that’s so stupid.  OK sure let’s do this.

WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT:  Colorado argues that once the fines are paid into the Court system, the money becomes the ownership of the State and that it’s the Defendant’s burden to prove that they can get it back.

(reads appellate brief again)

HAHAHAHA seriously Colorado maybe it’s time to ban weed again.

WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS – Ok, seriously this time.  You could argue that this case represents the Court stepping on State’s rights because if Colorado wants to have a stupid rule about keeping your fines, they should be allowed to do whatever they want.  That being said, this clearly violates procedural due process, probably violates substantive due process, and could colorably be classified as a government taking without due process.  Luckily we don’t have anyone from Colorado joining significant parts of the Federal judiciary with life tenure anytime soon.

(reads news)

HAHAHAHAHAHA, never change Colorado.

ROOT FOR NELSON IF: you’re not the one person whose salary is paid by defendants who are motivated enough to appeal their criminal convictions, but not motivated enough to file for the fees returned.

ROOT FOR COLORADO IF: you are Colorado

PREDICTION:  Nelson 6-2 (Alito/Thomas special).


WHAT HAPPENED: Appellant is an indigent defendant who was convicted of first degree murder.  Appellant sought medical expert to assist with his sentencing and was provided with an expert by the State.  Following some kind of calamity involving timing and delivering the report, Appellant was sentenced to death (by electrocution because this was in 1984).

WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT:  In the 1970s, the Supreme Court (by way of Thurgood Marshall) held that indigent defendants were entitled to medical experts to assist with the insanity defense.  The Court held that the cost to the State was nominal compared to the benefit it would provide in ensuring that justice was served.  This case takes that holding one step further, and asks that not only does the State have to provide a medical expert, but also has to provide someone who is completely independent from the State as to reduce bias.

WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS – This is either (1) a dollars and cents issue, or (2) another way that the Court could create more ways that people on death row can overturn their sentences.  One on hand, hiring an independent expert would cost more, but once again you would have to wonder how much it would really be in light of the purpose behind providing the expert.  If you also believe that experts are mostly just mercenaries who say whatever they are paid to say, the benefit here is pretty high.  On the other hand, a ruling in favor of the Defendant is a pretty far stretch from the original Court’s holding, and finding that an independent expert has been required since 1984 would open the door for past death row inmates to contest their sentences, which would in turn bring more old death row cases before the Court, which would in turn make Clarence Thomas freak out.

ROOT FOR MCWILLIAMS IF: you want to see Clarence Thomas freak out.

ROOT FOR DUNN IF: you think poor Clarence Thomas has been through enough.


Here are the updated rankings, based on the results recorded so far. They’re almost in order. Apologies to Brad, Nazim and Scott for misplacing you. But mostly to Nazim, since he’s writing this. Also, that second Andreas is supposed to be Chris. I’m really not sure what happened there…

Some impressive insight displayed by Josh from Oregon and Austin from LA, who both nailed all the details in Moore v. Texas. A lot of folks out there who could gain massive amounts of points by filling out the past ballots. You don’t get points for cases that have already been decided, but until they are, you can.

March Rankings

The columns with the months are the ballots that have been scored to the extent that they contain cases with a published decision. If there is no number in a month, we didn’t record a ballot for that month for that playa. As always, if you note a mistake, please let us know, and send us something that will help us figure out how to correct the mistake.



Gavel bones 2

The most recent ballots of our Fantasy SCOTUS league is openour Fantasy SCOTUS league is open. Making up for last month’s short list, this month there are six cases for you to wager your wagers on. Or whatever it is that we do here.

Image result for justice kagan

The following scores include Fry v. Napoleon Schools and Bethune Hill v. VI Districting Committee.

Arturo                   85

Brett                      70

Brian                      70

Todd                      70

Alyssa                   65

Gunsoley             65

Young Thomas  65

KC                           60

Ray                         60

Blake                     60

Austin                   60

Lauren                  55

Karen                    45

Nick                       45

Eve                         45

SooMin                45

Nazim                   40

Jocelyn                 40

Austin                   40

Tyler                      40

Andreas               40

Texas Kolaches 40

Kevin                     30

Christi                   30

Lane                      30

Dan                        30

Scott                      25

Fabian                   15

Monday Night Fiesta      15

JP                            15

Steven C              15

Wayne                  15

Justin Trizz          15

Not Elvis               15

Lyndsey                 15

Keith                     15

Anthony              15

Drew                     15

Nashville Tom    15

Neil                        15

Brad                       15

Eddy                      15

Vito                        15

Penni                    15

Matt                      15

Andy                     15

Adam                    15




… is up. Get it here, while it’s still warm. Bonus questions in this month’s batch.


WHAT HAPPENED:  Appellee is a non-citizen who was detained pursuant to a criminal matter in the United States.  Although all U.S. citizens are given the right to bail during a pending criminal matter, non-citizens are not.  Appellee is a good example of this inequity, as Appellee was held for three years without a bail hearing on charges of drug possession and joy-riding, which is a crime white teenagers may not even spend a night in prison over.  Appellee has filed a class action lawsuit with other non-citizens who have been detained unfairly asking for the Court to grant non-citizens a bail hearing when detention exceeds six months.

WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT:  The background on a non-citizen’s right to bail is somewhat murky, as there is case law favoring a right to bail hearings, and case law that denies the right entirely.  To make matters worse, neither case is directly on point, as the primary case law can mostly be limited to the specific facts of each case.  For example, a case that granted a non-citizen a bail hearing only did so because that person’s home country did not want the person returned, so without some kind of hearing, the defendant was going to be detained forever.  So on one end, this case serves to clarify existing law.  On the other hand, Appellee is asking for a pretty big right from the Court, where most immigration rights are reserved to Congress.  Therefore, another big issue is whether this Court believes it is within their rights to take action on something that may be outside their authority.

WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS –  If you’ll indulge me, here’s a short anecdote about baseball that may give this case more context.  Shortly after September 11th, the New York Yankees were playing in their fourth straight World Series.  Although most people hate the Yankees, it was hard not to root for them considering all the city had gone through, and it was almost serendipitous that they got this far so soon after that tragic event.  To make it even better, they were playing dipshit expansion team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, whose dumb name and ugly uniforms made them likely footnotes to this Disney story of an ending.  And yet, despite all those good vibes, the Diamondbacks won and it was ten years before the Yankees made the World Series again, thus ruining the story and showing that sometimes things operate in a vacuum and have no actual connection.  To that end, you may have heard about a certain Executive Order that bans a certain religion from a certain World superpower, and while it would be easy to make some kind of connection between this case and that case, there is no connection between these cases.  For one, even if Rodriguez wins, non-citizens only get the right to bail, which may in turn just end up being the right to get denied bail.  If Jennings wins, there is nothing indicating a broader approval of the Executive Order, since they rely on entirely different grounds.  So while I think there could be a propensity to read between the lines on this, I think this operates in its own world entirely.

ROOT FOR JENNINGS IF:  oh hell, you know who you are.

ROOT FOR RODRIGUEZ IF:  you would rather the judiciary make unconstitutional moves about immigration instead of it just being the president.

PREDICTION:  Jennings 5-3.


WHAT HAPPENED:  Appellant is a pastel-clad, humid municipality populated by hot women and Pitbull (or so I’m told). Appellee is a commercial full of less-aggressively good-looking suburbanites in their late twenties who are far too relaxed and self-aggrandizing during the process of buying a house (I watch too much TV).  The basis of Appellant’s claim is that Appellee caused gave predatory loans (OK) to minority homeowners (probably true) which caused the housing crisis (wait, what) and ruined Miami (arguable).

WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT:  Even if we assume that all of the propositions in that last sentence are true, there are three big technical issues Appellant has to get by to bring this claim.  First, the Court has to determine whether or not Miami has standing to bring this claim under the Fair Housing Act, because even though Miami asserts elements of racial discrimination, it is not quite the focus of the claim like other lawsuits under the Fair Housing Act.  Second, the Court has to determine whether or not proximate cause is proven, meaning whether or not a bank giving bad loans could somehow be traced to the complete collapse of the housing market.  Third, the Court has to determine whether or not Miami can prove damages that are not just “infinity dollars”.

WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS –  By way of background, wild cases like this are not entirely uncommon in the legal profession.  Whether it is by the government or private parties, creative lawsuits can often move the law forward and bring about institutional or social change that the Court is commonly known for.  For example, Roe v. Wade was a fairly wild shot in the dark when it happened, and that is probably the most famous case of the last century.  That being said (and this gets forgotten about often), most of these cases lose.  This is a rough comparison, but the success of these cases are probably at the same rate of being on American Idol, where some contestants have perfect pitch and look like Carrie Underwood, and others are tone-deaf weirdos who somehow did not have a friend throw their body in front of the idea of auditioning in front of a live televised audience.  Following this analogy to its naturally ridiculous conclusion, this is the kind of case where Randy Jackson would say “Gee, I don’t know, dog.  I just don’t’ think it’s your time”, and then the lawsuit sadly goes back to the lobby and has to tell its disappointed family members that no, we are not going to Hollywood.

ROOT FOR CITY OF MIAMI IF:  you’re down with creditors getting taken down a peg, even if the implications of said peg are completely unknown.

ROOT FOR WELLS FARGO IF:  you didn’t own a house in the late 2000s.

PREDICTION:  Wells Fargo 6-2