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Supreme Court hears arguments in deportation, double jeopardy cases

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] heard oral arguments [day call, PDF; briefs] Monday in two cases. In Nijhawan v. Holder [oral arguments transcript, PDF; JURIST report], the Court will consider whether convictions for mail, bank, and wire fraud qualify as an aggravated felony under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) [text], where the amount of loss caused was not determined by a jury. The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled [opinion, PDF] that the convictions do qualify as an aggravated felony, but counsel for the petitioner argued that even though the petitioner stipulated that the amount of loss caused was higher than the statutory minimum, that finding would have to be arrived at by a jury to qualify their client for deportation.

In Bobby v. Bies [oral arguments transcript, PDF; JURIST report], the Court will consider whether the Double Jeopardy [LII backgrounder] clause is violated by the holding of a state post-conviction hearing to determine the mental capacity of a capital defendant whose death sentence was affirmed before the 2002 Supreme Court ruling in Atkins v. Virginia [opinion, PDF], which barred the execution of mentally retarded defendants. The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held [opinion, PDF] that there was a Double Jeopardy violation. Counsel for the petitioner, who is seeking to hold the hearing, argued that the clause was not triggered in the case, because the respondent was not acquitted of the crime by the ruling, and the hearing was not on par with another trial for the same crime:

First, there has been no acquittal in this case. Second, there is no successive jeopardy; and, third, even if collateral estoppel analysis applies... the Atkins issue has not actually and necessarily been decided. Each of these factors shows that the Ohio court's decision to go forward with the Atkins hearing was reasonable, and this Court therefore should... give the Ohio courts their first chance to adjudicate Mr. Bies's Atkins claim.
Counsel for the respondent argued that the trial court in the case had appropriately considered whether the respondent was mentally retarded, and that an additional inquiry into the issue would therefor be improper.

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