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US Supreme Court Orders

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Today the US Supreme Court released an orders list from its last regularly scheduled conference day of the term.  The 11 cases taken up for hearing next term include one criminal prosecution, one capital habeas case, and one civil suit against police officers.

In United States v. Jones, No. 10-1259, the question framed by the Government is, "Whether the warrantless use of a tracking device on petitioner's vehicle to monitor its movements on public streets violated the Fourth Amendment."  The Court's order granting certiorari adds the question, "Whether the government violated respondent's Fourth Amendment rights by installing the GPS tracking device on his vehicle without a valid warrant and without his consent."  I've wondered about that aspect of the case as well.

In Martel v. Clair, No. 10-1265, the question presented in California's petition is, "Whether a condemned state prisoner in federal habeas corpus proceedings is entitled to replace his court-appointed counsel with another court appointed lawyer just because he expresses dissatisfaction and alleges that his counsel was failing to pursue potentially important evidence."

In Messerschmidt v. Millender, No. 10-704, the question presented as framed by counsel for the police officers is, "(1) Whether police officers are entitled to qualified immunity when they obtained a facially valid warrant to search for firearms, firearm-related materials, and gang-related items in the residence of a gang member and felon who had threatened to kill his girlfriend and fired a sawed-off shotgun at her? (2) Whether United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897 (1984), and Malley v. Briggs, 475 U.S. 335 (1986), should be reconsidered or clarified?"

I was a bit taken aback to see the attorneys for the cops asking for reconsideration of decidedly pro-cop precedents.  It's really more on the "clarified" aspect.  They assert that the rare exceptions to good faith under Leon have proven, at least in some courts, not to be rare enough, and the open-ended wording provides too much wiggle room for judges who want to get around it.

The Court turned down the twice-relisted Russell v. California, No. 10-10201, on exclusion of hearsay evidence offered as mitigation in a capital penalty retrial.

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