October 2016 Supreme Court Term Preview: Major Criminal Cases at Hand
The U.S. Supreme Court will return from its summer recess at the end of the month. The justices have already agreed to consider a number of significant criminal law cases over 2016-2017 Term. This post offers a brief preview.
- Bravo-Fernandez et al. v. United States: The bribery case considers when cases can be retried under the Constitution’s Double Jeopardy Clause. The Court will determine whether, under Ashe v. Swenson and Yeager v. United States, a vacated, unconstitutional conviction can cancel out the preclusive effect of an acquittal under the collateral estoppel prong of the Double Jeopardy Clause.
- Buck v. Stephens: The case involves the role of race in death penalty cases. The specific issue before the justices is whether the Fifth Circuit imposed an improper and unduly burdensome Certificate of Appealability (COA) when it denied petitioner a COA on his motion to reopen the judgment and obtain merits review of his claim that his trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective for knowingly presenting an “expert” who testified that petitioner was more likely to be dangerous in the future because he is Black, where future dangerousness was both a prerequisite for a death sentence and the central issue at sentencing.
- Beckles v. United States: The Court has again agreed to consider the parameters of enhanced sentencing and the implications of Johnson v. United States, in which the Court held that the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act was unconstitutionally vague. The justices granted certiorari on the following three questions: (1) Whether Johnson v. United States applies retroactively to collateral cases challenging federal sentences enhanced under the residual clause in United States Sentencing Guidelines (U.S.S.G.) § 4B1.2(a)(2) (defining “crime of violence”); (2) whether Johnson‘s constitutional holding applies to the residual clause in U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2(a)(2), thereby rendering challenges to sentences enhanced under it cognizable on collateral review; and (3) whether mere possession of a sawed-off shotgun, an offense listed as a “crime of violence” only in commentary to U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2, remains a “crime of violence” after Johnson.
- Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado: The case involves alleged racial bias by a juror in a Colorado sexual assault case. The specific question before the Court is whether a no-impeachment rule – a rule of evidence prohibiting the introduction of juror testimony regarding statements made during deliberations when offered to challenge the jury’s verdict —may constitutionally bar evidence of racial bias offered to prove a violation of the Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury.
- Moore v. Texas: The Texas case will further define how to determine intellectual disability in death penalty cases. The justices have specifically agreed to consider the following question: Whether it violates the Eighth Amendment and the Supreme Court’s decisions in Hall v. Florida and Atkins v. Virginia to prohibit the use of current medical standards on intellectual disability, and require the use of outdated medical standards, in determining whether an individual may be executed.
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW ARTICLES
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- Establishment ClauseFree Exercise Clause
- Freedom of Speech
- Freedoms of Press
- Freedom of Assembly, and Petitition
- The Right to Bear Arms
- Unreasonable Searches and Seizures
- Due Process
- Eminent Domain
- Rights of Criminal Defendants
Preamble to the Bill of Rights
Congress of the United States begun and held at the City of New-York, on Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.
THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.