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Smartphones Patents And Racial Bias In Jury Deliberations


The Supreme Court heard arguments in two cases yesterday morning – a third argument was heard in the afternoon, but I didn’t sketch that one.

The first case, Samsung Electronics v. Apple, involves the design patents of Apple’s iPhone. Samsung, having lost in the lower courts, was ordered to pay Apple all the profits from smartphones that copied design elements of the iPhone, close to $400 million. Samsung naturally argues that such an outsized award is unfair considering their smartphones are more than just the package.

In the second case, Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado, the justices were asked to make an exception to the rule that jurors cannot testify about deliberations. Here one of the jurors expressed a strong racial bias against the defendant and his alibi witness, both of whom are Hispanic.



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First Arguments In October

Here are sketches from three of the five cases argued in the Supreme Court during this first week of the October 2016 term (wish I hadn’t skipped Tuesday’s bank fraud argument, Shaw v. U.S., and missed Justice Breyer’s Kardashian hypothetical ).

Tuesday’s collateral estoppel double-jeopardy case, Bravo-Fernandez v. U.S. :

Wednesday’s insider trading case, Salman v. U.S. :

. . . and the Texas racial bias in death penalty arguments in Buck v. Davis :

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First Monday In October . . .

. . or the all catholic bench.

As the first day of Rosh Hashanah this year coincided with the first day of the Supreme Court’s new term no arguments were heard on Monday. Justices Ginsburg, Breyer and Kagan were absent, presumably in observance of the Jewish new year. That left the remaining five justices, all of whom are roman catholic. . . . L’shanah tovah !

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SCOTUS Ends With A Bang, Not A Whimper

It’s been a strange Supreme Court term, like a meal that doesn’t satisfy. With only eight members on the bench after Justice Scalia’s death the odds were good that the last blockbuster opinion of the term would fall to a tie.

But, once again, Justice Kennedy was the fulcrum that allowed the Court to do some heavy lifting. In a 5-4 opinion authored by Justice Breyer in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt the lie was exposed that Texas’ restrictive abortion clinic regulations were enacted to protect women’s health.

That left the dissenters arguing only on  procedural grounds that Whole Woman’s Health had lost an earlier round and should never have got another bite of the apple.

Oh, and there was also the unanimous opinion in McDonnell v. United States. It’s perfectly okay now, through gifts and cash, to purchase access to politicians, even if it stinks.


Posted in Opinions, Supreme Court Tagged with: , , , , ,

Monday’s Undecisions

The big news of course on Monday was the Supreme Court’s per curiam opinion in Zubik v. Burwell (and other consolidated cases) that decided nothing but encouraged the two sides to reach a compromise.

The other case left hanging is Spokeo v. Robins. In a 6-2 opinion the Court asked the Ninth Circuit to take another look at the “concreteness” of the harm to Thomas Robins when posted inaccurate information about him.

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Opinion: Ocasio v. United States

An interesting case, and not just because I live in Baltimore.

Majestic Auto Repair was paying up to $300 for each damaged vehicle Baltimore police would steer their way from the scene of an accident. By the time the FBI broke up the deal some sixty officers were involved.

One of the officers, Samuel Ocasio, was tried and convicted on three counts of extortion and one count of conspiracy to commit. He appealed the conspiracy conviction on the grounds that in order to conspire to obtain property “from another,” conspirators must agree to obtain property from someone outside the conspiracy. Since the conspiracy was between Ocasio and the owners of Majestic Auto Repair who were paying the bribes out of their own pockets, and not “from another”, there was no conspiracy.

The Court didn’t buy it. Justice Alito delivered the 5-3 opinion, sketched above. For an in-depth explanation of the opinion go here.

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Copyright Fee Awards and Patent Law Arguments

The Supreme Court heard their last argument of the term yesterday, an appeal of former Virginia governor McDonnell’s conviction for accepting gifts and favors in exchange for “official acts”. I wasn’t there to sketch it. Instead I was covering the sentencing of former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (those sketches will be posted soon).

The last day of argument for me was Monday when the Court heard two cases related to copyright and patents, not usually the most exciting. I could follow the first case, Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., which first came to the Supreme Court a couple of terms back and now returns on the issue of awarding attorney fees.

But the second case, Cuozzo Speed Technologies, LLC v. Lee, left me so confused I’ll just post the sketches.



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Arizona Redistricting Opinion and DUI Argument

On Wednesday the Supreme Court released three opinions, two of which made news, one of which – Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission – I sketched. I would’ve sketched the opinion in Bank Markazi v Peterson, that upheld a law directing Iranian assets to go to victims of terrorism, except I really couldn’t see much of Justice Ginsburg’s tiny figure hunched behind the bench as she delivered the opinion.

Sketches of the argument in Birchfield v. North Dakota, actually three cases concerning state laws that make it a crime to refuse a warrantless blood-alcohol test when stopped for DUI, are below.

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Deaf and Hard of Hearing Admissions To The Bar

iPads and smartphones are not normally permitted in the courtroom but an exception was made for members of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Bar Association at the Supreme Court on Tuesday for the swearing in ceremony. American Sign Language interpreters were also present, seated in front of the bench right below Justice Kagan.

After the lawyers were presented Chief Justice Roberts used sign-language granting the motion to admit them to the bar. I wasn’t able to actually see the Chief signing as my view was blocked by the lawyers standing in front of me.

I also sketched the argument in United States v. Bryant.

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Deferred Action For Parents Of Americans . . .

. . . and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, was before the Supreme Court today.

A very large crowd supporting the president’s immigration policy was gathered in front of the Court’s plaza. Some had been there since Friday hoping to get a seat inside the courtroom for the arguments in United States v. TexasAnd the courtroom was in fact packed with spectators full of anticipation, hoping to get an inkling as to which way the Justices may rule.

But at the end of the hour and half of mostly technical argument there was little to glean. You an read about it here.



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