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Supreme Court to hear death penalty, sentencing cases

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Friday granted certiorari in six cases [order list, PDF], including Kennedy v. Louisiana (07-343) [docket; cert. petition], in which the Supreme Court will consider whether a death sentence constitutes cruel and unusual punishment when imposed for a crime in which the victim was not killed. Patrick Kennedy was sentenced to death in Louisiana for raping a minor, one of the few remaining crimes where the death of a victim is not required for the death penalty. The Louisiana Supreme Court upheld [opinion, PDF] the sentence. AP has more.

The Supreme Court also granted cert in several other sentencing cases. In Irizarry v. US (06-7517) [docket], the Court will rule on whether a judge must give advance notice to both sides in a criminal case if he plans to pass a sentence that deviates from the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. The Eleventh Circuit ruled [opinion, PDF] that the guidelines are only advisory and so notice is not required. In Greenlaw v. United States (07-330) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the Supreme Court will rule on whether a federal circuit court can take steps to lengthen a convict's sentence in the absence of any government appeal requesting such an extension.

The Court granted cert in three other cases Friday. In John Bridge v. Phoenix Bond & Indemnity Co., et al. (07-210) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the Court will rule on whether a victim of mail fraud must prove that he relied on a misrepresentation made by the defendant to prevail in a civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) action. In Sprint Communications Company, et al. v. APCC Services (07-552) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the Court will rule on whether a plaintiff who was assigned the right to pursue a claim, but who does not stand to gain anything from the claim, nonetheless has standing to sue. In Plains Commerce Bank v. Long Family Land & Cattle (07-411) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the Court will rule on whether Indian tribes’ courts have jurisdiction to decide a case between a business owned by tribe members and a bank that owns land within a reservation but that is not owned by tribe members.

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