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US Supreme Court hands down four rulings

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court handed down four rulings Monday on its last decision day of 2004. In Florida v. Nixon, the Court ruled that an accused Florida man was not due a new trial even though his lawyer had conceded his guilt without his consent. Read the opinion here. AP has more. In Cooper Industries v. Aviall Services, the justices ruled 7-2 that a company had improperly used the federal Superfund law to sue a former polluting owner when there had been no directive to undertake a cleanup. Read the opinion here. AP has more. In Devenpeck v. Alford, the Court reversed a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that an offense establishing probable cause had to be “closely related” to, and based on the same conduct as, the offense an arresting officer identifies at the time of arrest. Read the opinion here. Finally, in Kowalski v. Tesmer, the Court reversed the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, holding that third-party attorneys did not have standing to contest a Michigan constitutional provision that denied appellate counsel to indigents pleading guilty. Read the opinion here.

11:36 AM ET - On Monday the Court also summarily granted and reversed in a fifth case, Brousseau v. Haugen, on an issue of qualified immunity for a police officer. Read the per curiam decision here. There were no additional certiorari grants made; the Court's full Order List is now online here [PDF]. Also this morning the Court announced that Chief Justice Rehnquist, recovering from cancer treatment, will not take part in any of the decisions argued in the Court's November sitting unless his vote is necessary to break a tie. SCOTUSblog has more.

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