Supreme Court hears last two oral arguments of term News
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Supreme Court hears last two oral arguments of term

The US Supreme Court heard the last two arguments of the October 2018 term on Wednesday. 

First, in Quarles v. United States, the court must decide at which point the intent to commit a crime requirement must be present in a burglary case. The petitioner was convicted under a state burglary offense that included situations where the defendant decided to commit a crime after illegally remaining in the building, although the intent was not present upon entry. The court must decide whether this counts as a burglary under the federal Armed Career Criminal Act of 1984.  

Many of the arguments dealt with the interpretation of a 1990 Supreme Court case Taylor v. United States, which defined burglary as “an unlawful or unprivileged entry into, or remaining in, a building or other structure, with intent to commit a crime.” The petitioner’s attorney argued,  “The Court should confirm that generic burglary retains that traditional requirement of contemporaneous intent, intent at the time of the initial trespass.” The respondent said that the plain meaning of “remaining” in Taylor and the Armed Career Criminal Act of 1984 supports that a burglary can include situations where a defendant’s mind was changed while in the dwelling.

At issue in the second case, Taggart v. Lorenzen is whether, “under the Bankruptcy Code, a creditor’s good-faith belief that the discharge injunction does not apply precludes a finding of civil contempt.” The Ninth Circuit previously found that any subjective good faith belief prevented a party from being held in contempt of court. The petitioner argued that creating a per se rule that an objectively reasonable mistake precludes civil contempt violates the Bankruptcy Code and would adopt a “qualified-immunity-like defense for the code.” The respondent argued that it violated court precedent to hold a party who had acted “reasonably and in good faith” in contempt of court, although she did not think good faith but unreasonable mistakes needed to be protected.