The January SCOTUS Oral Argument Docket

The January, 2018 oral argument schedule for the Supreme Court begins on January 8th and runs through January 17th.  During that time, the Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in 9 cases.  The following is a summary of those cases.

Texas vs. New Mexico and Colorado

  • To be heard:                Monday, January 8, 2018
  • Origin of case:             US Supreme Court original jurisdiction
  • Type of case:                Dispute between states
  • Summary of case:  Probably every Supreme Court term, they get to hear at least one case of the original jurisdiction variety.  This means that the Supreme Court and only they are given the duty of resolving disputes among the individual states.  Usually, those disputes involve water rights and this one is no different.  This case arose when Texas accused both New Mexico and Colorado of violating the Rio Grande Compact and the Rio Grande Project Act.

Florida vs. Georgia

  • To be heard:               Monday, January 8, 2018
  • Origin of case:            US Supreme Court original jurisdiction
  • Type of case:               Dispute between states
  • Summary of case:      Like the above mentioned case, this one involves a dispute over the Apalachiola-Chattahoochie-Flint River basin and the apportionment of those waters to Florida, and whether Florida is entitled to injunctive relief against Georgia.  Generally speaking, these cases are referred to a SCOTUS Special Master who analyzes the case on both sides and makes a recommendation to the Justices.

Byrd vs. United States

  • To be heard:               Tuesday, January 9, 2018
  • Origin of case:            3rd Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Type of case:               Fourth Amendment Search and Seizure
  • Summary of case:      The Supreme Court is asked whether the driver of a rental car has a reasonable expectation of privacy when they have the express permission of the renter of the car to use that car, but whose name does not appear on the rental agreement.  This case arose during the Super Bowl held at the New Jersey Meadowlands.  Police had sobriety checkpoints and Mr. Byrd was pulled over as a result.  Police had specifically targeted rental cars.  The main reason this case was taken was because of a difference of opinion between circuits on whether the driver of a rental car, regardless of whether they signed the rental agreement or not, is subject to such searches.

Collins vs. Virginia

  • To be heard:                Tuesday, January 9, 2018
  • Origin of case:             Virginia Court of Appeals
  • Type of case:                Fourth Amendment Search and Seizure
  • Summary:   Some deft police work is in question here.  The police were searching for the rider of a motorcycle who eluded them in a chase.  They came to suspect Collins for other reasons not pertinent to the case.  During a chance encounter at the DMV with the suspect, they visited his Facebook page and noticed a picture of a motorcycle under a tarp and were able to identify the residence.  That is where the good detective work ends.

The motorcycle was, indeed, under a tarp parked behind a car near the entrance way to the home after the officers decided to pay a visit to the home.  They removed the tarp, obtained the tag numbers and VIN and determined that it had been reported stolen.  They then asked Collins whether he owned the vehicle, he said he did, and they arrested him for possession of stolen goods.

Called into question is whether the so-called automobile exception applies here.  That exception states that a vehicle that is readily mobile and if probable cause exists, police may search the vehicle without a warrant.  However, in this case the motorcycle was parked on private property very near the home.  So whether the auto exception applies here is the question and, if so, at what point is the dividing line?

Husted vs. A. Philip Randolph Institute

  • To be heard:                 Wednesday, January 10, 2018
  • Origin of case:              6th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Type of case:                 Voting rights
  • Summary of case:        Analysis of this case was previously done in an article specific to the case, but deals with Ohio’s voter registration procedures.

Hall vs. Hall

  • To be heard:                   Tuesday, January 16, 2018
  • Origin of case:                3rd Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Type of case:                   Civil Procedure
  • Summary of case:         In cases that extend over many different districts in the US court system, sometimes a decision or settlement will occur in a specific district regardless of what is happening in the courts in the other districts.  Once a final judgment is entered in a single district, the Court is asked whether that judgment starts the clock on appeals in all the districts.

Dalmazzi vs. United States

  • To be heard:                  Tuesday, January 16, 2018
  • Origin of case:               Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
  • Type of case:                  Appointments Clause
  • Summary case:    In a nutshell, an officer sitting on a court martial was later promoted in rank and appointed to the US Court of Military Commission Review.  A case which he helped decide at the lower level then came before that court.  The most important question here is whether the officer in question’s continued service on Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals is moot to start with given his commission to the higher court did not occur.  More importantly, the Court is asked whether this officer’s appointment violated the Appointment Clause which requires direct Congressional authorization before an active military person can hold a “civil office.”

Encino Motorcars, LLC. vs. Navarro

  • To be heard:              Wednesday, January 17, 2018
  • Origin of case:           9th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Type of case:              Statutory interpretation/labor law
  • Summary of case:    This is a classic case of the liberal 9th Circuit interpreting established law to fit a liberal agenda.  Service advisors at car dealerships, according to courts in many states and circuits, are exempt from overtime pay provisions.  However, the 9th Circuit bucked this belief by several other circuits and the Supreme Court of Montana.  It is hard to see the 9th Circuit’s decision being affirmed here.

McCoy vs. Louisiana

  • To be heard:              Wednesday, January 17, 2018
  • Origin of case:           Louisiana Court of Appeals
  • Type of case:             Sixth Amendment Fair and Speedy Trial
  • Summary of case:  Robert McCoy was arrested for a triple homicide.  During the course of his incarceration, he obtained a public defender who McCoy eventually fired with the court’s approval on the grounds the defender was not doing enough to secure his innocence which he maintained.  He then retained a second lawyer.  That lawyer (English), shortly before the trial was to begin, suggested that McCoy plead guilty and accept a plea bargain.  Again, McCoy maintained his innocence and insisted he had an alibi and had people who could verify that alibi.  His lawyer refused to issue subpoenas against those individuals despite McCoy’s request.  Two days before trial, the lawyer informed McCoy that he was prepared to concede his guilt to the court.  McCoy appealed to the judge that English be discharged and that he be allowed to represent himself.  The judge ruled that the request was untimely and that the trial date was only two days away.  McCoy was eventually tried, convicted and sentenced to death.  The lawyer in question contended that McCoy was guilty of manslaughter and that he was mentally diminished and should not be tried for murder.  However, that option was precluded under Louisiana law.

This looks like a slam dunk case for McCoy.  Personally, this writer would not want that lawyer on my side.  McCoy is simply asking for a new trial and hopefully the Court will oblige.

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