[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Friday granted certiorari [order list, PDF] in seven cases. In Erica P. John Fund, Inc. v. Halliburton Co. [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the court will determine whether investor losses need to be proven by a preponderance of the evidence at the class certification stage prior to full discovery in order for the class action lawsuit to proceed. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held [opinion, PDF] that this was procedurally proper. The Fifth Circuit also determined that a plaintiff must establish loss causation to invoke the fraud-on-the-market presumption laid out in Basic v. Levinson [opinion].
In Lafler v. Cooper [docket; cert. petition, PDF] and Missouri v. Frye [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the court will determine how poor legal advice between attorneys and clients regarding plea bargaining should impact subsequent guilty verdicts. In Lafler v. Cooper, Anthony Cooper was convicted of assault with intent to murder for shooting a woman in her thigh and buttocks after his attorney advised him to not take a plea offer in the belief that there could be no finding of the requisite intent. The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held [opinion, PDF] that the attorneys advice was unconstitutional as it amounted to ineffective assistance of counsel. In Missouri v. Frye, Galin Frye was offered two deals by prosecutors during proceedings for driving with a revoked license, but Frye’s attorney never informed his client about the offers and Frye pleaded guilty. The Missouri Court of Appeals held that the attorney’s failure to inform his client about the plea offers amounted to unconstitutional ineffective assistance of counsel.
In United States v. Jicarilla Apache Nation [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the court will determine whether attorney-client privilege allows for the United States to deny discovery requests for communications between the United States and its attorneys when those communications concern management of an Indian trust and there was no claim of a specific competing interest. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held [opinion, PDF] that the privilege did not apply and upheld the lower court’s order of production.
In Nevada Commission on Ethics v. Carrigan [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the court will determine whether the First Amendment allows states to prevent government officials from voting on matters in which they have or appear to have a personal conflict. The Nevada Supreme Court, citing Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission [opinion, PDF], held [opinion, PDF] that preventing an official from casting such a vote violated the First Amendment because voting by an elected public officer on public issues is protected speech.
In Sorrell v. IMS Health, Inc. [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the court will determine whether state laws restricting or preventing the sale of nonpublic prescription data to drug companies for marketing purposes without the prescriber’s consent is a violation of First Amendment commercial speech. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, also citing Citzens United, held [opinion, PDF] that the law was an unconstitutional regulation of commercial speech.
Lastly, in McNeill v. United States [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the court will determine how retroactive sentencing laws affect the definition of a “serious drug offense” under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) [18 U.S.C. section 924]. Clifton McNeill was arrested in 2007 after police discovered a firearm and 3.1 grams of cocaine during a search incident to arrest for eluding a traffic stop. In light of previous drug convictions in 1992 and 1995, McNeill was convicted under the ACCA. The previous convictions and sentencing structure met the definitions of a “serious drug offense” at the time they were committed, however, the statutory sentences for those offenses were reduced in later years and do not currently meet the ACCA definition. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held [opinion, PDF] that the ACCA still applied regardless of the subsequent statutory changes.