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Supreme Court to hear appeal for former Virginia governor

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] on Friday granted certiorari [order list, PDF] in eight new cases for this term. In McDonnell v. United States [SCOTUSblog backgrounder], the Supreme Court is asked to decide the meaning of "official action" under the fraud statutes used to convict former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell for taking official action to benefit a benefactor. The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed [opinion, PDF] McDonnell's corruption conviction for accepting money in exchange for assisting a Virginia company in securing university testing of a dietary supplement.

In Manuel v. City of Joliet [SCOTUSblog backgrounder], the court is asked to determine whether an individual may bring a malicious prosecution claim under 42 USC § 1983 when the state law provides an adequate remedy. Elijah Manuel challenged his conviction of possession with intent to distribute ecstasy, alleging that the arresting officers falsified the results of a drug test. The district court dismissed his claim based on existing federal case law, and the Seventh Circuit affirmed [opinion, PDF].

In Murr v. Wisconsin [SCOTUSblog backgrounder], the court is asked to decide an integral question about the "parcel as a whole" concept of the takings clause. The Murrs, owners of two adjacent properties together totaling just under one acre, sought a variance permitting them to sell one lot and remain domiciled in the other. A city ordinance requires that two adjacent parcels be considered one when totaling under one acre, an ordinance the Murrs challenge as a regulatory taking. The Supreme Court is asked to decide the constitutionality of such an ordinance and whether the Murrs have been deprived of all practical use of their property. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals affirmed [opinion, PDF] a lower court holding against the Murrs.

In Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Son, Inc. [SCOTUSblog backgrounder], the court is asked to determine what constitutes the standard for awarding attorneys' fees under § 505 of the Copyright Act [text]. Under the act, the district court is permitted to use its discretion in awarding attorneys' fees to a prevailing party in a copyright action. The Second Circuit affirmed [opinion] a finding that the John Wiley's course of action in challenging Kirtsaeng's use of copyrighted material was objectively reasonable.

In Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro, the Supreme Court is asked to determine whether the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) apply to service advisors at car dealerships. There is an exemption [text] in the FSLA's overtime provision for "any salesman, partsman, or mechanic primarily engaged in selling or servicing automobiles." The Middle District of California held that service advisers fell under this exemption, but the Ninth Circuit reversed [opinion, PDF]. The Supreme Court is now asked to decide the question, as the Ninth Circuit's opinion created a circuit split between it and the Fourth and Fifth Circuits.

In Cuozzo Speed Technologies v. Lee [SCOTUSblog backgrounder], the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit determined [opinion, PDF] it lacks jurisdiction to review the US Patent and Trademark Office's (PTO) implementation of inter partes review, and the court affirmed the PTO's order that Cuozzo's trademark should remain unaltered. Global Positioning System (GPS) manufacturer Garmin [official website] requested the PTO review Cuozzo's trademark on speed indicator technology, alleging that multiple parts were ambiguous. Cuozzo requested to revise those portions, but instead the PTO found that no changes should be made. The Supreme Court is now asked by Cuozzo to determine the court of appeals' jurisdiction to review inter partes review decisions.

In Microsoft Corp. v. Baker [SCOTUSblog backgrounder], the court will resolve another jurisdictional issue, this time involving the federal court of appeals' jurisdiction to review an order denying class certification after the named plaintiffs in a class action voluntarily dismissed their claim with prejudice. The district court denied certification based on another district's refusal to certify a similar class. The Ninth Circuit reversed [opinion, PDF], claiming jurisdiction over district court's ruling as sufficiently final and finding that striking the class was an abuse of discretion.

Finally, the Supreme Court will review the Eighth Circuit's affirmation [opinion, PDF] of the Missouri Department of Natural Resource's (DNR) denial of assistance to Trinity Church in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Pauley [SCOTUSblog backgrounder]. Trinity sought public assistance to resurface a playground, but the DNR denied, stating that providing public funding to a religious organization violates Missouri's constitution. Trinity Church asked the Supreme Court to review whether the exclusion of churches from the otherwise secular program based on Missouri's constitution violates their federal constitutional rights where there exists no risk of violation of the Establishment Clause [Cornell LII backgrounder] were the church granted aid.

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