First Monday is October 3 and opens the 2016-17 session of the Court, but this year Monday is a “non-argument day.” In the first two weeks, the Court will hear cases concerning racism and the death penalty, an allegation of extreme police and prosecutorial misconduct, and racist jurors who do not reveal their racism until after the jury has been selected and started private deliberations.
Tuesday, October 4
Two relatively technical cases are scheduled for this first argument day. Neither will be particularly accessible to a casual observer, but may be of interest to some.
Bravo-Fernandez v. US involves the “double jeopardy clause” and the doctrine of “collateral estoppel.” The first trial resulted in jury acquittal on some counts and conviction on other counts, but the conviction was later overturned due to erroneous instructions to the jurors. The government wants to reprosecute the overturned convictions, but the defendant says those counts, properly understood and with correct jury instructions, are logically inconsistent with the finding of acquittal on the other counts in the first trial. SCOTUSblog offers a useful overview.
Shaw v. US asks whether a bank fraud statute criminalizing a “scheme to defraud a financial institution” requires proof of “a specific intent not only to deceive, but also to cheat, a bank.” The scheme is at least an interesting read.
Wednesday, October 5
In the morning, the Court starts with an insider trading case, Salman v. United States. It’s an unusual subject to come before the Court, and could be interesting just on the facts of the case. Columbia Law School’s blog offers an interesting discussion.
The second morning argument involves racism and the death penalty, although the official question being considered involves procedure. In Buck v. Davis, the defendant seeks a hearing on whether “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.” Wow…. See a full discussion of the case here.
Unusually, the Court has scheduled an afternoon session today. The case, Manuel v. City of Joliet, asks whether malicious prosecution can be brought under the 4th Amendment and involves a really shocking set of allegations of misconduct. Morning arguments close at noon and the courtroom will be cleared at that time, with afternoon sessions beginning at 1:00. Since afternoon sessions are so unusual, it’s hard to know what the crowds will be like, but it may well be easier to get in for this argument.
[The Court is closed Oct. 10 for Columbus Day]
Tuesday, October 11
The first case, Samsung Electronics v. Apple, involves damages in a patent infringement case and will be rather technical and involve a specialized area of law. But the second case, Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado, is an unusual examination of what happened during jury deliberations. Ordinarily, juror comments are kept secret absent extreme misconduct. In this case, it is alleged that one of the jurors made racist comments that would give reason to be believe the individual should have been excluded from juror service (but, obviously, this racism did not come to light during juror selection). The Court has accepted cert. on the question of whether the usual veil of secrecy around what happens during deliberations “constitutionally may bar evidence of racial bias offered to prove a violation of the Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury.” A useful overview is offered here.
There is another unusual afternoon argument today, but involving technical appeal procedure. And there are no arguments scheduled for Wednesday this week.