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Supreme Court hears arguments on Title VII attorney's fees, sentencing speed

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] heard oral arguments [day call, PDF] in two cases on Monday. In CRST Van Expedited v. EEOC [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] the court heard arguments [transcript, PDF] regarding whether the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) [official website] is liable for up to $4.7 million in attorney's fees for failing to satisfy their pre-suit investigation, reasonable cause, and conciliation obligations. The suit arose from the dismissal of a class-wide Title VII claim that had alleged CRST had allowed female truck drivers to be sexually harassed. Section 2000e-5(k) [text] of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides that a court "in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party, other than the Commission or the United States, a reasonable attorney's fee (including expert fees) as part of the costs, and the Commission and the United States shall be liable for costs the same as a private person." CRST claims that they are entitled to attorney's fees under this provision.

In Betterman v. Montana [SCOTUSblog Backgrounder], the court heard arguments [transcript, PDF] on whether the speedy trial clause of the Sixth Amendment [text] applies to the sentencing phase of a criminal prosecution. A criminal defendant is entitled to a speedy and public trial, and this case deals with the question of whether protecting a criminal defendant from inordinate delay in final disposition of his case falls under the provisions of the amendment. The petitioner claims that while the Supreme Court has never ruled on the issue, it has implicitly stated that the amendment does cover the speed of sentencing.

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