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Supreme Court adds 2 cases to next term

The US Supreme Court [official website] on Friday added two new cases [order list, PDF] to its docket for next term. The first case, The Standard Fire Insurance Co. v. Knowles [docket; cert. petition, PDF], involves the procedural issue of whether a class action can be removed to federal court when there is dispute over whether the amount in controversy is over $5 million. The issue the court will be deciding in this case is whether a pleading by the named parties in a class bringing the suit that claims the amount in controversy is less than $5 million is binding on all of its members and prevents removal to federal court. The issue stems from the court's ruling [JURIST report] last year in Smith v. Bayer Corp. [opinion, PDF], in which it ruled that unless a court officially creates a class, a person attempting to create a class action does not represent interests of all potential members of that class.

The second case, Descamps v. US [docket; cert. petition, PDF], is a challenge to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit's use of Matthew Descamps' state burglary conviction to convict him of burglary under federal law. Descamp is challenging the federal court's use of his burglary conviction in sentencing because the California statute under which he was convicted does not include one element of "generic burglary," but the federal court read that element into the state statute saying the statute was actually broader than generic burglary. There have been conflicting lower court rulings on whether a federal court can supply an element of a crime that is not written into it through a "modified categorical approach." Using this approach, the court only looks at a limited number of documents to determine whether the defendant was convicted of the elements of the generic crime even though the state statute is broad and overinclusive. These cases will likely be heard in the Court's November-December sitting which begins on November 26.

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