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Supreme Court Decision Syllabus (SCOTUS Podcast)

Politics

The Supreme Court decision syllabus, read without personal commentary. See: Wheaton and Donaldson v. Peters and Grigg, 33 U.S. 591 (1834) and United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U.S. 321, 337. Photo by: Davi Kelly. Founded by RJ Dieken. Now hosted by Jake Leahy. Frequent guest host Jeff Barnum. *Note this podcast is for informational and educational purposes only.

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The Supreme Court decision syllabus, read without personal commentary. See: Wheaton and Donaldson v. Peters and Grigg, 33 U.S. 591 (1834) and United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U.S. 321, 337. Photo by: Davi Kelly. Founded by RJ Dieken. Now hosted by Jake Leahy. Frequent guest host Jeff Barnum. *Note this podcast is for informational and educational purposes only.

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Episodes
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Trump v. United States (Presidential Immunity)

7/1/2024
Trump v. United States A federal grand jury indicted former President Donald J. Trump on four counts for conduct that occurred during his Presidency following the November 2020 election. The indictment alleged that after losing that election, Trump conspired to overturn it by spreading knowingly false claims of election fraud to obstruct the collecting, counting, and certifying of the election results. Trump moved to dismiss the indictment based on Presidential immunity, arguing that a President has absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for actions performed within the outer perimeter of his official responsibilities, and that the indictment’s allegations fell within the core of his official duties. The District Court denied Trump’s motion to dismiss, holding that former Presidents do not possess federal criminal immunity for any acts. The D. C. Circuit affirmed. Both the District Court and the D. C. Circuit declined to decide whether the indicted conduct involved official acts. Held: Under our constitutional structure of separated powers, the nature of Presidential power entitles a former President to absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for actions within his conclusive and preclusive constitutional authority. And he is entitled to at least presumptive immunity from prosecution for all his official acts. There is no immunity for unofficial acts. ROBERTS, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which THOMAS, ALITO, GORSUCH, and KAVANAUGH, JJ., joined in full, and in which BARRETT, J., joined except as to Part III–C. THOMAS, J., filed a concurring opinion. BARRETT, J., filed an opinion concurring in part. SOTOMAYOR, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which KAGAN and JACKSON, JJ., joined. JACKSON, J., filed a dissenting opinion. Read by RJ Dieken.

Duration:00:24:11

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City of Grants Pass v. Johnson (Public Camping Laws)

7/1/2024
City of Grants Pass v. Johnson Grants Pass, Oregon, is home to roughly 38,000 people, about 600 of whom are estimated to experience homelessness on a given day. Like many local governments across the Nation, Grants Pass has publiccamping laws that restrict encampments on public property. The Grants Pass Municipal Code prohibits activities such as camping on public property or parking overnight in the city’s parks. See §§5.61.030, 6.46.090(A)–(B). Initial violations can trigger a fine, while multiple violations can result in imprisonment. In a prior decision, Martin v. Boise, the Ninth Circuit held that the Eighth Amendment’s Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause bars cities from enforcing public-camping ordinances like these against homeless individuals whenever the number of homeless individuals in a jurisdiction exceeds the number of “practically available” shelter beds. 920 F. 3d 584, 617. After Martin, suits against Western cities like Grants Pass proliferated. Plaintiffs (respondents here) filed a putative class action on behalf of homeless people living in Grants Pass, claiming that the city’s ordinances against public camping violated the Eighth Amendment. The district court certified the class and entered a Martin injunction prohibiting Grants Pass from enforcing its laws against homeless individuals in the city. App. to Pet. for Cert. 182a–183a. Applying Martin’s reasoning, the district court found everyone without shelter in Grants Pass was “involuntarily homeless” because the city’s total homeless population outnumbered its “practically available” shelter beds. App. to Pet. for Cert. 179a, 216a. The beds at Grants Pass’s charity-run shelter did not qualify as “available” in part because that shelter has rules requiring residents to abstain from smoking and to attend religious services. App. to Pet. for Cert. 179a–180a. A divided panel of the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s Martin injunction in relevant part. 72 F. 4th 868, 874–896. Grants Pass filed a petition for certiorari. Many States, cities, and counties from across the Ninth Circuit urged the Court to grant review to assess Martin. Held: The enforcement of generally applicable laws regulating camping on public property does not constitute “cruel and unusual punishment” prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. Pp. 15–35. GORSUCH, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and THOMAS, ALITO, KAVANAUGH, and BARRETT, JJ., joined. THOMAS, J., filed a concurring opinion. SOTOMAYOR, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which KAGAN and JACKSON, JJ., joined. Read by RJ Dieken.

Duration:00:12:38

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Fischer v. United States (Obstruction of Official Proceeding)

7/1/2024
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 imposes criminal liability on anyone who corruptly “alters, destroys, mutilates, or conceals a record, document, or other object, or attempts to do so, with the intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding.” 18 U. S. C. §1512(c)(1). The next subsection extends that prohibition to anyone who “otherwise obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so.” §1512(c)(2). Petitioner Joseph Fischer was charged with violating §1512(c)(2) for his conduct on January 6, 2021. On that day, Congress convened in a joint session to certify the votes in the 2020 Presidential election. While they did so, a crowd of supporters of then-President Donald Trump gathered outside the Capitol, and some eventually forced their way into the building, breaking windows and assaulting police. App. 189. This breach of the Capitol delayed the certification of the vote. The criminal complaint alleges that Fischer was among those who invaded the building. Fischer was charged with various crimes for his actions on January 6, including obstructing an official proceeding in violation of §1512(c)(2). He moved to dismiss that charge, arguing that the provision criminalizes only attempts to impair the availability or integrity of evidence. The District Court granted his motion in relevant part. A divided panel of the D. C. Circuit reversed and remanded for further proceedings. Held: To prove a violation of §1512(c)(2), the Government must establish that the defendant impaired the availability or integrity for use in an official proceeding of records, documents, objects, or other things used in an official proceeding, or attempted to do so. ROBERTS, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which THOMAS, ALITO, GORSUCH, KAVANAUGH, and JACKSON, JJ., joined. JACKSON, J., filed a concurring opinion. BARRETT, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which SOTOMAYOR and KAGAN, JJ., joined. Read by Jeff Barnum.

Duration:00:08:31

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Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo (Administrative Law / Chevron Deference)

6/28/2024
Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo This is a consolidated opinion of two cases that were argued this term. Both of them bring into question rules promulgated by the National Marine Fisheries Service under the Magnuson-Stevens Act -- which applies the Adminsitrative Procedures Act. The only question on appeal is whether Chevron is still good law. Chief Justice Roberts, writing for the 6-3 Court, holds that "The Administrative Procedure Act requires courts to exercise their independent judgment in deciding whether an agency has acted within its statutory authority, and courts may not defer to an agency interpretation of the law simply because a statute is ambiguous; Chevron is overruled."

Duration:00:20:58

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Moyle v. United States (Abortion)

6/28/2024
In this very brief Per Curiam decision, RJ Dieken also reads the concurring opinions authored Justice Kagan and Justice Barrett.

Duration:00:25:44

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Harrington v. Purdue Pharma (Bankruptcy)

6/28/2024
Harrington v. Purdue Pharma Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty in 2007 to a federal felony based on its role in misbranding Oxycontin -- which was far more addictive than the company had made it out to be. Purdue faced seemingly endless lawsuits in the following years based on how addictive the opioid Oxycontin was. For over a decade that followed, the Sackler family, who owned Purdue, began to pull money out of the company -- they eventually pulled $11 billion out of the company -- 75% of the company's assets. In 2019 the company filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. As part of the plan approved by the Bankruptcy Court, the Sackler family would contribute $4.2 billion towards settling all opioid related lawsuits, and the Bankruptcy Court would enjoin future claims against the family. The District Court threw out the plan on review. The Second Circuit, in a divided panel, reversed, upholding the third-party releases. The Court reversed, deciding that the Bankruptcy Code's "catch-all" provision, is not so broad so as to allow a discharge of third-party claims against a third-party debtor.

Duration:00:10:01

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Ohio v. EPA (Clean Air Act)

6/28/2024
Ohio v. EPA The Clean Air Act requires both the States and federal government to help develop environmental regulations. When the EPA creates certain standards regarding air quality, states have to develop their own "State Implementation Plan," which requires States to both set out how to go about applying the federal regulations, and it also requires States to consider its impact on neighboring States (called the Good Neighbor Provision). The EPA can step in when States won't comply with federal guidelines in creating their plan. Some State plans were not approved, and 12 States obtained a stay of enforcement of these denials. This changes the numbers for either State -- becasue part of the benefit of multiple States coming together is the economies of scale of implementation. Ohio, and some other States, now are trying to obtain a stay of the EPA's decision to implement a federal plan, alleging that implementation is arbitrary or caprcicious, given that so many other States are now out of the plan. The main issue of the four factors to determine whether to grant a stay, according to the Court, is which side is likely to prevail on the merits. The Court held that the stay is granted pending review from the D.C. Circuit. Gorsuch delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, Thomas, Alito, and Kavanaugh joined. Barrett filed a dissenting opinion, which was joined by Sotomayor, Kagan, and Jackson.

Duration:00:08:04

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SEC v. Jarkesy (Jury Trial / Securities)

6/27/2024
SEC v. Jarkesy In the aftermath of the Wall Street Crash of 1929, Congress passed a suite of laws designed to combat securities fraud and increase market transparency. Three such statutes are relevant: The Securities Act of 1933, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. These Acts respectively govern the registration of securities, the trading of securities, and the activities of investment advisers. Although each regulates different aspects of the securities markets, their pertinent provisions—collectively referred to by regulators as “the antifraud provisions,” App. to Pet. for Cert. 73a, 202a— target the same basic behavior: misrepresenting or concealing material facts. To enforce these Acts, Congress created the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC may bring an enforcement action in one of two forums. It can file suit in federal court, or it can adjudicate the matter itself. The forum the SEC selects dictates certain aspects of the litigation. In federal court, a jury finds the facts, an Article III judge presides, and the Federal Rules of Evidence and the ordinary rules of discovery govern the litigation. But when the SEC adjudicates the matter in-house, there are no juries. The Commission presides while its Division of Enforcement prosecutes the case. The Commission or its delegee—typically an Administrative Law Judge—also finds facts and decides discovery disputes, and the SEC’s Rules of Practice govern. One remedy for securities violations is civil penalties. Originally, the SEC could only obtain civil penalties from unregistered investment advisers in federal court. Then, in 2010, Congress passed the DoddFrank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The Act authorized the SEC to impose such penalties through its own in-house proceedings. Shortly after passage of the Dodd-Frank Act, the SEC initiated an enforcement action for civil penalties against investment adviser George Jarkesy, Jr., and his firm, Patriot28, LLC for alleged violations of the “antifraud provisions” contained in the federal securities laws. The SEC opted to adjudicate the matter in-house. As relevant, the final order determined that Jarkesy and Patriot28 had committed securities violations and levied a civil penalty of $300,000. Jarkesy and Patriot28 petitioned for judicial review. The Fifth Circuit vacated the order on the ground that adjudicating the matter in-house violated the defendants’ Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial. Held: When the SEC seeks civil penalties against a defendant for securities fraud, the Seventh Amendment entitles the defendant to a jury trial.

Duration:00:13:45

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Murthy v. Missouri (Standing / Social Media / First Amendment)

6/27/2024
Murthy v. Missouri Missouri, alongside a few other states, sued the federal government alleging that certain federal officials illegally coordinated with social media companies to effectively silence certain viewpoints -- which they claim, amounts to these companies becoming state actors within the meaning of First Amendment jurisprudence. Held: Neither the individual nor the state plaintiffs have established Article III standing to seek an injunction against any defendant. Reasoning that the objection is with the platforms, not with the named defendants, therefore, an injunction would be improper. Read by Jeff Barnum.

Duration:00:12:12

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Snyder v. United States (Corruption)

6/27/2024
Snyder v. United States Snyder served as the Mayor in a town in Indiana. After the town awarded a $1.2 million contract to a trucking company, he received a $13,000 payment from that company, he said this was for consulting services. He was prosecuted by the federal government and convicted for taking an illegal gratuity. He said that Section 666, which is what the charges were brought under, only prohibited bribes, not gratuities after the fact. The district court rejected this argument. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The Court reversed, stating that for six reasons, the statute does not apply gratuities -- only bribes. Reversed and remanded. Kavanagh writing for the 6-3 majority, with Gorsuch concurring. Jackson writing for the dissent, joined by Kagan and Sotomayor.

Duration:00:10:59

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Texas v. New Mexico (Rio Grande Compact)

6/27/2024
Texas v. New Mexico Approved by Congress in 1938, the Rio Grande Compact is an interstate agreement that apportions the waters of the Rio Grande River among Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. The Compact relies on the Federal Bureau of Reclamation’s operation of an irrigation system called the Rio Grande Project. Under the Compact, New Mexico must deliver a certain amount of water to the Elephant Butte Reservoir, located in southern New Mexico. Then, in accordance with agreements called the “Downstream Contracts,” Reclamation releases specified amounts of water from the Reservoir for delivery to two water districts in New Mexico and Texas. In 2013, Texas filed suit in this Court against the Compact’s other two signatory States, alleging that excessive groundwater pumping in New Mexico was depleting supplies of Rio Grande water bound for Texas. The United States sought to intervene, alleging essentially the same claims as Texas. In 2018, this Court allowed the United States to intervene, holding that the United States “has an interest in seeing that water is deposited in the [Elephant Butte] Reservoir consistent with the Compact’s terms,” as that “is what allows the United States to meet its duties under the Downstream Contracts, which are themselves essential to the fulfillment of the Compact’s expressly stated purpose.” Texas v. New Mexico, 583 U. S. 401, 414 (2018). Texas and New Mexico now seek approval of a proposed consent decree that would resolve this case and codify a methodology for allocating each State’s share of the Rio Grande’s waters. The Special Master recommended that this Court approve the consent decree, but the United States objected and filed an exception to the Special Master’s report. Held: Because the proposed consent decree would dispose of the United States’ Compact claims without its consent, the States’ motion to enter the consent decree is denied. Read by Jeff Barnum.

Duration:00:08:18

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Department of State v. Munoz (Immigration)

6/27/2024
Department of State v. Munoz Sandra Munoz is an American citizen who married Luis Ascenio-Cordero -- an El Salvador resident -- in 2010. He was denied entry into the United States by the consulate in San Salvador. Generally, these are finally determinations. But, Munoz, his wife, filed suit, claiming that his denial represented a fundamental liberty interest that was entitled to due process of law. She claimed that she had a right for her spouse to enter the United States. The Court rejected this argument, stating that there is no fundamental right for a non-U.S. resident to be granted entry to the U.S. to live with their spouse domestically. And therefore, there is no heightened showing required of the government to support its decision. Reversed and remanded. Justice Barrett delivered the opinion of the Court. Gorsuch concurred. Sotomayor filed a dissent, joined by Kagan and Jackson.

Duration:00:08:33

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Erlinger v. United States (Sixth Amendment -- Jury Trial)

6/24/2024
Erlinger v. United States Paul Erlinger pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U. S. C. §922(g). At sentencing, the judge found Mr. Erlinger eligible for an enhanced sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act, §924(e)(1), which increases the penalty for a 922(g) conviction from a maximum sentence of 10 years to a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years when the defendant has three or more qualifying convictions for offenses committed on different occasions. Subsequently, the Seventh Circuit held in unrelated decisions that two of the offenses on which the government relied for Mr. Erlinger’s sentence enhancement no longer qualified as ACCA predicate offenses. The District Court vacated Mr. Erlinger’s sentence and scheduled resentencing. At the resentencing hearing, prosecutors again pursued an ACCA sentence enhancement based on a new set of 26-year-old convictions for burglaries committed by Mr. Erlinger over the course of several days. Mr. Erlinger protested that the burglaries were part of a single criminal episode and did not occur on separate occasions, as required by ACCA. Held: The Fifth and Sixth Amendments require a unanimous jury to make the determination beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant’s past offenses were committed on separate occasions for ACCA purposes. Pp. 5–26. Read by RJ Dieken.

Duration:00:11:14

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Smith v. Arizona (Expert Witnesses)

6/23/2024
Smith v. Arizona The Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause guarantees a criminal defendant the right to confront the witnesses against him. In operation, the Clause protects a defendant’s right of cross-examination by limiting the prosecution’s ability to introduce statements made by people not in the courtroom. The Clause thus bars the admission at trial of an absent witness’s statements unless the witness is unavailable and the defendant had a prior chance to subject her to cross-examination. Crawford v. Washington, 541 U. S. 36, 53–54. This prohibition “applies only to testimonial hearsay,” Davis v. Washington, 547 U. S. 813, 823, and in that two-word phrase are two limits. First, in speaking about “witnesses”—or “those who bear testimony”—the Clause confines itself to “testimonial statements,” a category this Court has variously described. Id., at 823, 826. Second, the Clause bars only the introduction of hearsay—meaning, out-of-court statements offered “to prove the truth of the matter asserted.” Anderson v. United States, 417 U. S. 211, 219. Held: When an expert conveys an absent analyst’s statements in support of the expert’s opinion, and the statements provide that support only if true, then the statements come into evidence for their truth. Pp. 11– 22. (a) Read by Jeff Barnum.

Duration:00:08:17

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United States v. Rahimi (Second Amendment)

6/23/2024
United States v. Rahimi Respondent Zackey Rahimi was indicted under 18 U. S. C. §922(g)(8), a federal statute that prohibits individuals subject to a domestic violence restraining order from possessing a firearm. A prosecution under Section 922(g)(8) may proceed only if the restraining order meets certain statutory criteria. In particular, the order must either contain a finding that the defendant “represents a credible threat to the physical safety” of his intimate partner or his or his partner’s child, §922(g)(8)(C)(i), or “by its terms explicitly prohibit[ ] the use,” attempted use, or threatened use of “physical force” against those individuals, §922(g)(8)(C)(ii). Rahimi concedes here that the restraining order against him satisfies the statutory criteria, but argues that on its face Section 922(g)(8) violates the Second Amendment. The District Court denied Rahimi’s motion to dismiss the indictment on Second Amendment grounds. While Rahimi’s case was on appeal, the Supreme Court decided New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn., Inc. v. Bruen, 597 U. S. 1 (2022). In light of Bruen, the Fifth Circuit reversed, concluding that the Government had not shown that Section 922(g)(8) “fits within our Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.” 61 F. 4th 443, 460 (CA5 2023). Held: When an individual has been found by a court to pose a credible threat to the physical safety of another, that individual may be temporarily disarmed consistent with the Second Amendment. Read by RJ Dieken.

Duration:00:11:30

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Gonzalez v. Trevino (Section 1983)

6/23/2024
Gonzalez v. Trevino The decision of the 5th Circuit is vacated and remanded for further proceedings. Gonzalez was 72 years old, when in 2019, she was elected to a seat on her local City Council in Texas. She collected signatures for a petition trying to get the City Manager removed. There was a long debate at the meeting about this topic. The Mayor asked for the petition at the meeting, she denied having it. She was searched and they found the petition. She said she didn't know it was there, the Mayor told the police and hired a private attorney to investigate the situation. she was arrested under a statute which purports to criminalize "intentionally removing a government record." She filed an action under Section 1983. The district court determined that she could proceed and that even though there was probable cause, it was enough to show that this type of crime was not typically prosecuted. The Appellate Court reversed, determining that she needed to show a closer analog. The Court determined that the Circuit Court's decision was too narrow and that it should be remanded for further determination. Per Curiam decision. Read by Jeff Barnum.

Duration:00:08:42

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Moore v. United States (Tax)

6/23/2024
Moore v. United States Congress generally taxes the income of American business entities in one of two ways. Some entities, such as S corporations and partnerships, are taxed on a pass-through basis, where the entity itself does not pay taxes. 26 U. S. C. §§1361–1362. Instead, the entity’s income is attributed to the shareholders or partners, who then pay taxes on that income even if the entity has not distributed any money or property to them. §§61(a)(12), 701, 1366(a)–(c). Other business entities do pay taxes directly on their income. Those entities’ shareholders ordinarily are not taxed on that income but are taxed when the entity distributes a dividend or when the shareholder sells shares. Congress treats American-controlled foreign corporations as passthrough entities. Subpart F of the Internal Revenue Code attributes income of those business entities to American shareholders and taxes those shareholders on that income. §§951–952. Subpart F, however, applies only to a small portion of the foreign corporation’s income, mostly passive income. In 2017, Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. As relevant here, Congress imposed a one-time, backwardlooking, pass-through tax on some American shareholders of American-controlled foreign corporations to address the trillions of dollars of undistributed income that had been accumulated by those foreign corporations over the years. Known as the Mandatory Repatriation Tax, the tax imposed a rate from 8 to 15.5 percent on the pro rata shares of American shareholders. §§965(a)(1), (c), (d). In this case, petitioners Charles and Kathleen Moore invested in the American-controlled foreign corporation KisanKraft. From 2006 to 2017, Kisan Kraft generated a great deal of income but did not distribute that income to its American shareholders. At the end of the 2017 tax year, application of the new MRT resulted in a tax bill of $14,729 on the Moores’ pro rata share of KisanKraft’s accumulated income from 2006 to 2017. The Moores paid the tax and then sued for a refund, claiming, among other things, that the MRT violated the Direct Tax Clause of the Constitution because, in their view, the MRT was an unapportioned direct tax on their shares of KisanKraft stock. The District Court dismissed the suit, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed. Held: The MRT—which attributes the realized and undistributed income of an American-controlled foreign corporation to the entity’s American shareholders, and then taxes the American shareholders on their portions of that income—does not exceed Congress’s constitutional authority. KAVANAUGH, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and SOTOMAYOR, KAGAN, and JACKSON, JJ., joined. JACKSON, J., filed a concurring opinion. BARRETT, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which ALITO, J., joined. THOMAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which GORSUCH, J., joined.

Duration:00:12:02

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Chiaverini v. City of Napoleon (Malicious Prosecution)

6/21/2024
Chiaverini v. City of Napoleon This case involves a dispute between petitioner Jascha Chiaverini and police officers from Napoleon, Ohio. The officers charged Chiaverini, a jewelry store owner, with three crimes: receiving stolen property, a misdemeanor; dealing in precious metals without a license, also a misdemeanor; and money laundering, a felony. After obtaining a warrant, the police arrested Chiaverini and detained him for three days. But county prosecutors later dropped the case. Chiaverini, believing that his arrest and detention were unjustified, then sued the officers, alleging what is known as a Fourth Amendment malicious-prosecution claim under 42 U. S. C. §1983. To prevail on this claim, he had to show that the officers brought criminal charges against him without probable cause, leading to an unreasonable seizure of his person. The District Court, however, granted summary judgment to the officers, and the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed. The Court of Appeals held that Chiaverini’s prosecution was supported by probable cause. In holding this, the court did not address whether the officers had probable cause to bring the money-laundering charge. In its view, there was clearly probable cause to charge Chiaverini with the two misdemeanors. And so long as one charge was supported by probable cause, it thought, a malicious-prosecution claim based on any other charge must fail. Held: The presence of probable cause for one charge in a criminal proceeding does not categorically defeat a Fourth Amendment malicious prosecution claim relating to another, baseless charge. The parties, and the United States as amicus curiae, all agree with this conclusion, which follows from both the Fourth Amendment and traditional common-law practice. KAGAN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and SOTOMAYOR, KAVANAUGH, BARRETT, and JACKSON, JJ., joined. THOMAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which ALITO, J., joined. GORSUCH, J., filed a dissenting opinion.

Duration:00:05:37

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Diaz v. United States (Evidence / Expert Testimony)

6/21/2024
Petitioner Delilah Diaz was stopped at a port of entry on the United States-Mexico border. Border patrol officers searched the car that Diaz was driving and found more than 54 pounds of methamphetamine hidden in the vehicle. Diaz was charged with importing methamphetamine in violation of 21 U. S. C. §§952 and 960, charges that required the Government to prove that Diaz “knowingly” transported drugs. In her defense, Diaz claimed not to know that the drugs were hidden in the car. To rebut Diaz’s claim, the Government planned to call Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Andrew Flood as an expert witness to testify that drug traffickers generally do not entrust large quantities of drugs to people who are unaware they are transporting them. Diaz objected in a pretrial motion under Federal Rule of Evidence 704(b), which provides that “[i]n a criminal case, an expert witness must not state an opinion about whether the defendant did or did not have a mental state or condition that constitutes an element of the crime charged or of a defense.” The court ruled that Agent Flood could not testify in absolute terms about whether all couriers knowingly transport drugs, but could testify that most couriers know they are transporting drugs. At trial, Agent Flood testified that most couriers know that they are transporting drugs. The jury found Diaz guilty, and Diaz appealed, challenging Agent Flood’s testimony under Rule 704(b). The Court of Appeals held that because Agent Flood did not explicitly opine that Diaz knowingly transported methamphetamine, his testimony did not violate Rule 704(b). Held: Expert testimony that “most people” in a group have a particular mental state is not an opinion about “the defendant” and thus does not violate Rule 704(b). Diaz v. United States Read by RJ Dieken

Duration:00:05:39

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United States Trustee v. John Q. Hammons Fall 2006, LLC (Bankruptcy Fee Remedy)

6/21/2024
United States Trustee v. John Q. Hammons Fall 2006, LLC Two Terms ago, in Siegel v. Fitzgerald, 596 U. S. 464, the Court held that a statute violated the Bankruptcy Clause’s uniformity requirement because it permitted different fees for Chapter 11 debtors depending on the district where their case was filed. In this case, the Court is asked to determine the appropriate remedy for that constitutional violation. As noted in Siegel, there are three options: (1) refund fees for the thousands of debtors charged higher fees in districts administered by the U. S. Trustee Program, (2) retroactively extract higher fees from the small number of debtors charged lower fees in districts administered by the Bankruptcy Administrator Program, or (3) require only prospective fee parity. See id., at 480. As in Siegel, this case arises from a case filed in a U. S. Trustee district. In 2016, 76 legal entities filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the District of Kansas. In 2018, under the amended fee statute the Court later found unconstitutional in Siegel, the debtors began paying higher fees than they would have if their case had been filed in a Bankruptcy Administrator district. In 2020, the debtors challenged the constitutionality of those fees. The Bankruptcy Court found no constitutional violation, but the Tenth Circuit, anticipating Siegel, reversed. To remedy the constitutional violation, the Tenth Circuit ordered a refund of the debtors’ quarterly fees to the extent they exceeded the lower fees paid in the Bankruptcy Administrator districts. This Court vacated that judgment and remanded the case in light of Siegel, and the Tenth Circuit reinstated its original opinion without alteration. Held: Prospective parity is the appropriate remedy for the short-lived and small disparity created by the fee statute held unconstitutional in Siegel.

Duration:00:07:38