Supreme Court to hear sex offender commitment, Miranda cases

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Monday granted certiorari [order list, PDF] in three cases. In United States v. Comstock [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the Court will consider the Congressional authority to enact a law [18 USC § 4248 text] that authorizes courts to civilly commit "sexually dangerous" persons in federal prisons whose detention is coming to an end or in the custody of the Attorney General because they were found mentally incompetent to stand trial. The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit found that the law was beyond Congress' authority [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] under the Commerce Clause [Cornell LII backgrounder] or other provisions, ruling that the federal government is limited to powers enumerated in the Constitution. Although the appellate court found the law unconstitutional, they specified that the federal government could still use its spending power to encourage state action in the area. The US government argues, in part, that Congress has a broad deference when legislating in furtherance of a legitimate end. The law was enacted as part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 [text], provisions of which have been challenged before [JURIST report].

In Florida v. Powell [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the Court will consider whether a suspect must be explicitly advised of his right to counsel during custodial interrogation and whether the failure to provide such advice violates Miranda v. Arizona [opinion text]. The case arose out of Miranda warnings given to a defendant that specified a "right to talk to a lawyer before answering any of our questions" and a "right to use any these rights at any time you want during this interview." The trial court overruled the defense attorney's objection, holding that the warning was sufficient. The Florida Supreme Court ruled [opinion, PDF] the warning to be a direct violation of Miranda, finding it to be misleading enough to lead a reasonable person to conclude that he or she may only consult with an attorney before questioning.

In Graham County Soil v. United States, ex Rel. Wilson [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the Court will consider the scope of the public disclosure jurisdictional bar [31 USC § 3730(e)(4)(A) text] of the False Claims Act, to determine if the Act allows federal jurisdiction in suits based on state or local government audits and investigations. The petitioners claim that the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit erred in concluding [opinion, PDF] that a state audit does not constitute an administrative report, audit or investigation under the Act. The suit arose out of public record documents that detailed a failure to obtain bids for the clean-up and reconstruction of storm-damaged portions of North Carolina as well as a potential conflict of interest and whether or not these were publicly disclosed as per the Act.

 

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