[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] on Monday granted certiorari [order list, PDF] in two cases. In Ocasio v US [docket], two brothers owned an auto repair shop near Baltimore. Over many years, the brothers entered into a kickback scheme with Baltimore police officers to encourage the victims of car accidents to take their automobiles to the brothers’ repair shop. Though the brothers, along with numerous police officers charged in the scheme, pleaded guilty after an FBI investigation, police officer Samuel Ocasio pleaded not guilty and was given a joint trial with another police officer. Ocasio was found guilty of committing extortion by receiving a bribe for official acts and was sentenced to 18 months of imprisonment and three years of supervised release. Ocasio has appealed, arguing primarily that there is a circuit split in the interpretation of the Hobbs Act [text]. The court will be asked to determine whether a conspiracy to extort requires the conspirators to obtain property of another individual outside the conspiracy.
In Hawkins v. Community Bank of Raymore [docket], Valerie Hawkins and Janice Patterson were found to lack standing as spousal guarantors under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) [text]. The Community Bank of Raymore (CBR) [corporate website] loaned money to the husbands of Hawkins and Patterson in order to develop a residential subdivision. In doing so, CBR made Hawkins and Patterson sign numerous unconditional and absolute contracts agreeing to repay the loan. CBR then sued Hawkins and Patterson seeking repayment of the loan without first pursuing their husbands, who had borrowed the money, or other forms of collateral. The court will be asked to decide whether primarily and unconditionally liable spousal guarantors should be excluded from ECOA applications because they are parties of the credit transaction. The court will also be asked to determine if the there is authority to include spousal guarantors as ECOA applicants in order to eliminate discrimination against married women.