[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] heard oral arguments [day call, PDF; briefs] Wednesday in two cases. In Corley v. United States [oral arguments transcript, PDF], the Court heard arguments on whether federal statutory [18 U.S.C. § 3501 text] and case [McNabb-Mallory backgrounder] law require suppression of a confession given more than six hours after arrest but before the defendant is presented to a judge if law enforcement authorities unreasonably delay presentment. The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed [opinion, PDF] Corley's convictions for armed bank robbery and conspiracy to commit armed bank robbery, holding that voluntary confessions are admissible, even if there is an unreasonable delay. Counsel for the petitioner argued:
that 3501(c) as it's written by Congress leaves the McNabb-Mallory rule in place outside the six-hour time limitation. And … the Government's interpretation, under which 3501(c) is merely a voluntariness safe harbor, is unfaithful to the text and the structure of the statute.
Counsel for the government argued that, "the primary source of law that controls … is subsection (a), which says that voluntary confessions are admissible."
In Kansas v. Ventris [oral argument transcript, PDF], the Court heard arguments on whether a defendant's statement made without a knowing and voluntary waiver of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel may be used to impeach a witness. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled [opinion text] that such statements may not be used for any purposes, including impeachment purposes. Counsel for the state argued that, "permitting the impeachment use of voluntary statements obtained in violation of constitutional standards is necessary to prevent perjury by criminal defendants." Counsel for the respondent argued, "what we are dealing with in the Sixth Amendment case here is a violation of a core enumerated trial right, and this makes it a very different animal from all the other cases that we are talking about."
In Nken v. Mukasey [oral arguments transcript, PDF], the Court heard arguments on what standard governs a stay of deportation request by an alien pending consideration of his petition for review. Jean Marc Nken is a native of Cameroon who fears persecution upon return to his home country. He was denied a stay of a deportation order while he pursued court review of the denial of his asylum claim. His lawyers originally asked the Court for a stay of deportation [application, PDF], but the Court granted full review to resolve the conflict over the proper standard of review. The case turns on whether the standard is governed by 8 U.S.C. § 1252(f)(2) [text] or by the traditional test for stays. Lawyers for Nken argued that, "Congress intended that temporary stays of removal be governed by the normal standards applicable to States." Counsel for the government argued:
The statutory text, context and background of section 1252(f)(2) all demonstrate that that section applies to orders granting a stay of removal pending a court of appeals decision on a petition for review. Indeed, if section 1252(f)(2) does not apply to such an order barring removal, it is difficult to see what function it would serve.