Archive for the ‘Updates’ Category

The following scores include Chatman and Green.

Lane – 385

Neil – 335

Nick – 295

Brett, Thomas, & Gunsolley – 285

Scott – 280

Ray – 245

Richard – 240

Alyssa – 230

KC – 225

Stuckey – 215

Zach – 210

Todd – 205

Andreas – 200

Nazim – 190

Katya – 180

David – 165

Ryan – 145

Bryce – 135

Urvish – 125

Chad – 100

Matt – 100

Trizz – 25

The following scoring includes Ocasio and Spokeo.  Zubik v. Burwell probably won’t be scored since nothing really happened, fantasy-wise

Lane – 345

Neil – 260

Brett – 255

Scott – 250

Thomas & Gunsolley – 245

Richard & Nick – 240

Alyssa – 205

Stuckey and Andreas – 200

KC – 195

Todd – 190

Katya – 180 (who is still beating)

Nazim – 175

Zach – 170

Ray – 165

Bryce – 135

Urvish – 125

Ryan – 115

Chad & Matt – 100

Trizz – 25

Background – Defendant is convicted under a sex crime and is facing a statutory increase in penalty due to a prior sex abuse conviction against an adult.  The sentencing statute has a mandatory minimum penalty when the defendant has a previous charge of “aggravated sexual abuse, sexual abuse, or abusive sexual conduct against a minor or ward”.  This case basically comes down to grammar, in that whether or not “minor or ward” applies to all the charges or just abusive sexual conduct.

Lockhart Opinion

Sotomayor majority opinion (5-3)  – The Rule of Last Antecedent states that the limiting clause or phrase should only be read to modify the noun that precedes it.  Therefore, only abusive sexual conduct requires a minor or ward.  Defendant gets the extra punishment.

Kagan dissent – The Series Qualifier Principle requires that the modifier must apply to all items in series when application would represent a natural construction.  This opinion starts to fail when it argues we should read Congressional statutes with an eye toward natural language, because there is no natural language written in Congressional statutes.

Background – Defendant is charged with approx.45 million dollars of Medicare Fraud.  The State seizes assets owned by Defendant for purposes of restitution that equal that amount.  Defendant claims this seizure prevented her from hiring a lawyer of her choice, which in turn violates the Sixth Amendment

Luis Full Opinion

Breyer Majority – (5-3) – The seizure of assets here is problematic because there is no connection between the assets themselves and the crime.  The State is allowed to seize tainted assets, but untainted assets must balance the interest of the Defendant against the interests of the government.  In this case, the Court favors the interests of the Defendant.

Thomas concurrence – The Majority is generally right, but doesn’t need to balance the interests.  Untainted funds cannot be seized without connection to the crime.

Kennedy and Kagan dissents – Basically the legal equivalent of Will Ferrell’s “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills” speech from Zoolander.  While the Majority opinion makes sense in theory, there is no way to determine which funds are untainted and which funds are tainted, rationalizing that a person who stole $50 million and then won $50 million in the lottery could argue that he spent only the stolen money and the legit money was what was seized.

Background:  Citizens in Texas wanted their Districts to be calculated based on eligible voters instead of total population, arguing that unequal value of their votes violated the Equal Protection Clause

Evenwell Full Opinion

Ginsburg Majority Decision – (8-0) – The majority decisions makes three essential holdings, (1) total population has always been fine before so it’s fine now, (2)  changing the system would be a pain in the ass, and (3) non-voters are important so they should be considered too.  The third point none withstanding, it’s a remarkably conservative viewpoint from the liberal side of the bench.

Thomas concurrence – NOW WE’RE TALKING!  Thomas believes that one person, one vote is a myth and should be done away with.   The Court has never given the States a good idea of how to apply this concept so it’s about time we just did away with it.  Thomas also advocates for the Court getting out of the electoral business all together.  Generally, it’s a remarkably liberal viewpoint from the conservative side of the bench.

Alito concurrence – Alito’s decision is long and based on precedent that’s not worth discussing here.  There is nothing surprising about this opinion.

Please note at this onset that this is just an educated guess as to what occurred in the Duncan v. Owens case, and it does not come from someone with inside information.  Also, independent of how you feel about his decisions, Rest in Peace, big guy.

Duncan v. Owens was granted review this term to determine whether or not the 7th Circuit had the authority to grant a habeas corpus petition on the grounds that the Judge did not agree with the judge’s inferences on motive that affected sentencing.  This case went to oral argument, but did not result in a full opinion.  Instead, the Court issued an order which dismissed the claim on the grounds that it was “improvidently granted”, thus affirming the lower decision without giving a full opinion.

The first step to take in understanding this decision, without further guidance from the Court, is to understand what it means for a case to be improvidently granted.  For a case to be presented before the Supreme Court, the Court has to grant a writ of certiorari, which allows them to review the lower decision.  To gain this writ of cert., four out of the nine justices must want to hear the case.  Once the writ is granted, the case becomes part of the docket.

A writ of cert does not, however, guarantee review.  The Court has a fairly limited view of the case when it is granted cert, so the Court’s opinion on the viability of the case can change as briefs and oral argument is held.  After hearing more on the issues, the Court may dismiss a case on the grounds that the arguments are not as clear as originally expected, or that the case was misrepresented in the original writ and become more clear after more information.  In those cases, the Court can dismiss the case as being improvidently granted.  Therefore, this is not a case where there was an error, but just that vetting the case out has rendered it less suitable for Constitutional review.

In Duncan v. Owens. the Court was presented with an issue of whether or not the 7th Circuit had acted inappropriately by granting habeas corpus on the grounds that the original decision was unjust and unconstitutional.  At the onset, the primary argument was that the 7th Circuit had actively violated precedent by granting this parties relief; however, the case focused on a more specific issue concerning the original order.  There was discussion during oral argument about the the specifics of the trial judge’s decision, in other words, was the lowest court’s decision clear enough to create a basis for the remaining argument.  Although the Court seemed in favor of the State in a general sense, the inability of either attorney to provide a clear statement on this issue likely caused the dismissal on procedural grounds.  Once again, this is not based on verified information, but just an assumption that the attorneys’ inability to answer this question caused the Court to dismiss the action without a full decision.

The following point totals include the decision of Montgomery v. La, which was a bit of a mess since I originally wrote it as Hurst v. Fl but did provide the correct description of the case.  If you are feeling especially aggrieved in anyway by this calculation, please email me.  The FERC/ESPA energy case was within the dreaded grace period so it will not be counted.

60 Points – Lane, Nick & Gunsolley

55 Points – Richard & Neil

45 Points – Scott, Nashville Tom

40 Points – David, Katya

30 Points – Chad, Matt, Ryan, Andreas, Justin S.

25 Points – Justin Trizz (!!!)

15 Points – Todd, Zach, Alyssa, Urvish

0 Points – Everyone else, including Brett and Nazim.

 

Opinions came into today in the cases of Duncan v. Owens and Campbell-Elward v. Gomez.  Apparently, the appeal for Duncan v. Owens was dismissed on the grounds that it shouldn’t have been granted in the first place.  Therefore, everyone who picked Owens wins, but gets no other points since there was no opinion and no decision breakdown.  Please also note that the Hurst v. Florida decision was within the January grace period, so no points were granted for that opinion.  If you think any of this is wrong, please email me as I am very prone to mistakes.

  1.  Lane & Gunsolley – 45 points
  2. Katya (I know), Richard, David – 40 points
  3. Scott, Nashville Tom – 30 points
  4.  Bryce, aka Scrotusblog, Neil, Andreas, Ryan, Urvish, Nick, Matt, Chad – 15 points
  5. Everyone else with zero.  Meaning that if you did not submit a ballot, you are still tied with Brett and Nazim.

Background: Florida’s Death Penalty Statute asks the jury for a recommendation on death after the jury makes factual-findings. The Judge takes those findings and can make any decision within those findings.

Opinion can be found at http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/15pdf/14-7505_5ie6.pdf.

Sotomayor – Majority Decision (8-1)

 

 

The Florida statute is unconstitutional. Previous Supreme Court cases have required that any finding by the judge has to be supported by factual findings made by the Judge, which this does not. This case also gives too much power to the judge and not enough power to the jury, which is a violation of our decision in Ring. Finally, even though we’ve held that this statute was fine in 2002, logic and subsequent cases have washed away the logic of previous decisions. Kind of like boy bands and white-guy rap metal.

Breyer – Concurrence

Breyer joins the decision here out of practicality and not principal. Breyer sees bigger issues with the judge making the decision over the jury. This opinion reads like Breyer is saving his bullets for bigger decisions later on.

Alito – Dissent

All of this is wrong. Ring v AZ, which required juries make the death penalty decision, was wrong and this extension of Ring is also wrong. The majority is wrong that the judge takes precedence over the jury, and the defendant here is wrong because even if this process was faulty, it doesn’t change the fact that he would have been sentenced to die either way.

This week’s episode covers King v Burwell, a case that saved Obamacare in America despite being almost completely incorrect from a strict statutory construction standpoint.  King is also compared to the Texas Disparate Housing case and how both cases illustrate the difference between being persuasive and being correct.   Brett and Nazim also share their thoughts on the outcome of the same sex marriage case, despite recording the day before it was decided.

This is not a test.

This is not a test.