Supreme court hears arguments in insider trading, death penalty, unlawful detention cases
Supreme court hears arguments in insider trading, death penalty, unlawful detention cases

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] heard oral arguments [day call, PDF] Wednesday in Salman v. United States [transcript, PDF]. The court is faced with an insider trading crime and must determine whether the personal benefit element requires proof of “an exchange that is objective, consequential, and represents at least a potential gain” or may merely be satisfied by proof that the insider and tip receiver have a close family relationship. The case regards [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] a Chicago grocery wholesaler who profited from stock trades after receiving tips indirectly from his brother-in-law working for Citigroup [corporate website]. The petitioner’s attorney argued that the federal statutes require proof that the insider received some pecuniary gain from delivering information. The justices, however, appeared unconvinced by the attorney’s call for such a narrow reading of the statutes in question. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed [opinion, PDF] the petitioner’s conviction, stating that evidence of the insider sharing information with a relative was enough support and that proof of disclosure for the insider’s personal benefit was not necessary.

The court also heard oral arguments in Buck v. Davis [transcript, PDF]. The court must address whether the lower court imposed an improper Certificate of Appealability (COA) standard when it denied a death row inmate’s request for review of a claim for ineffective counsel in light of possible racial bias. The case regards [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] a Texas death row inmate whose attorney called a psychologist into a jury trial to testify that the inmate was more likely to be dangerous in the future because he is black. The petitioner’s attorney argued that the expert testimony violated his Sixth Amendment right to effective counsel. The attorney pointed to a lack of evidence supporting petitioner’s future dangerousness in the case. The justices overall seemed to be in petitioner’s favor, though they expressed concern that granting appeal here would set a precedent for allowing more death row inmates to reopen their cases. The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit had previously denied [opinion, PDF] petitioner’s application for a COA upon finding that petitioner had not shown extraordinary circumstances justifying relief.

Finally, the court heard oral arguments in Manuel v. City of Joilet [transcripts, PDF]. The court must address whether the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizures supports a malicious prosecution claim. The case concerns [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] a citizen who was detained in jail for 48 days for the possession of ecstasy even though his arresting officers had performed a field test that gave negative results. The petitioner was not released until an official lab test concluded that the pills in the petitioner’s possession were not illegal in nature. Almost two years after release, the petitioner filed a federal Section 1983 complaint. Oral arguments largely concerned whether unlawful detention here was a violation of the Fourth Amendment or due process and whether there existed a claim of malicious prosecution. The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed [opinion, PDF] petitioner’s conviction, stating that petitioner’s malicious prosecution claim was properly dismissed since Illinois law had already provided an adequate remedy.