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Supreme Court limits judges' sentencing discretion again

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court ruled in three cases Monday. In Shepard v. US [case backgrounder from Duke Law School], the court in a 5-3 opinion by Justice Souter held that in making sentencing determinations, judges are confined to information in the charging document, in the terms of any plea agreement terms, or admissions by the defendant made to the trial judge, but cannot review other sources, such as police reports. Review the syllabus, opinion, concurrence and dissent [Cornell LII]. In Wilkinson v. Dotson [case backgrounder from Duke Law School], the court ruled 8-1 (Justice Kennedy dissenting) that prisoners asserting violations of their due process rights under federal civil rights laws are not required to bring a petition of habeas corpus questioning the validity of their incarceration. Review the syllabus, opinion, concurrence and dissent [Cornell LII]. Also Monday, the court held per Justice Ginsburg in the consolidated cases of Ballard v. Commissioner and Estate of Kanter v. Commissioner [case backgrounders from Duke Law School] that the US Tax Court must include reports filed by special trial judges in court records available to the parties. Chief Justice Rehnquist dissented. Review the syllabus, opinion, concurrence and dissent [Cornell LII]. SCOTUSblog has more.

In other Supreme Court action Monday, the Court granted certiorari in two cases, US v. Olson, raising the question of the federal government's liability for not carrying out safety inspections required under federal law, and Volvo Trucks North America v. Reeder-Simco GMC, raising the question of how far a transaction must go before price discrimation can be shown to have occured. The Court has posted today's full Order List [PDF].

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