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Supreme Court takes sovereign immunity, tax, right to counsel cases

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Monday granted certiorari in three cases [order list, PDF], including Philippines v. Pimental (06-1204) [docket; cert. petition], in which the Supreme Court will consider whether the government of the Philippines had the right to be a party in litigation on claims to a $35 million account for a Panamanian corporation allegedly formed to hide money by former Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The Philippines has claimed that the doctrine of sovereign immunity should bar US courts from hearing the issue, and filed to have the rival claims on the account dismissed. Additionally, the Court will consider whether the Philippines had the right to appeal the District Court's decision and the Circuit Court ruling [opinion, PDF] even though it was not an indispensable party in the original litigation. AP has more.

In United States v. Clintwood Elkhorn Minig Co. (07-308) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the Supreme Court will rule on whether a taxpayer may sue directly under the Constitution via the Tucker Act [text] when failing to pursue administrative remedies before filing a refund suit. The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld [opinion, PDF] the district court's holding that a taxpayer could sue under the Tucker Act, but reversed on its ruling that an award of interest under Tucker Act claims was unavailable, stating that the Code provides "a straightforward recognition that the government should pay for its use of a taxpayer's money to which the government was not entitled."

In Rothgery v. Gillespie County, TX (07-77) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the Supreme Court will consider whether a person accused of a felony has the right to an attorney at a probable cause hearing before a magistrate judge. The US Circuit Court for the Fifth Circuit affirmed [opinion, PDF] the decision of the court below, holding that the right to counsel does not exist until a defendant is indicted on the charges on the basis "that the appearance [at a probable cause hearing] in this case did not commence adversary judicial proceedings for purpose of the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment right to counsel." SCOUTSBlog has more on Monday's cert. grants.

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