Supreme Court amends Juvenile Rules 515, 610, 612, and 632
The House and Senate meet October 25, 26 and 27.
Senate Bill 913, concerning comprehensive probation reform was introduced on October 18. In a memorandum to their colleagues, Senators Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne, Wyoming), Camera Bartolotta (R-Beaver, Greene, Washington), and Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia) explained that the bill would “minimize punishments for technical violations of probation and allow judges to shorten probation time for good behavior or for completing certain programs.” The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
House Bill 2005, which would require law enforcement agencies to record “a complete and contemporaneous recording of each custodial interrogation relating to the investigation of all offenses, including any attempt, solicitation or conspiracy to commit an offense.” In a memorandum to her colleagues, Representative Liz Hanbidge (D-Montgomery) wrote that the bill”would ensure that individuals’ rights are safeguarded during an interrogation, while also protecting our police officers from false allegations of misconduct. My bill would also create a grant program for police departments that do not have the funding to purchase the necessary recording equipment and/or to train personnel in the use of the equipment to ensure that all of our law enforcement agencies are following best practices.“
The bill was introduced on October 21 and referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
Click for Pennsylvania Bulletin – October 23, 2021
|THE BEST OF THE MARSHALL PROJECT|
“Comfort with closeness is all we’re really teaching.” Police officials are pushing cops to train in jiu-jitsu to avoid resorting to excessive force when trying to subdue suspects. What police consider an option to de-escalate potentially deadly situations is a trend that started in Marietta, Georgia, and has spread to other departments around the country. Civil rights advocates and others worry that training officers in martial arts will just encourage cops to be more confrontational when dealing with civilians.
“Where I’m meant to be.” Sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years as a teenager, Fred Weatherspoon never expected to live free. But he was released from prison in 2018, at 42, and now he’s back in Chicago mentoring young people at a local nonprofit. Weatherspoon says he’s mostly hopeful when he sees the promise in the kids he helps. He also sees the peril that surrounds them. “I worry that they don’t understand that what happened to me — and other people in our community — can happen to them,” Weatherspoon said.
|THE BEST OF THE REST|
Criminal justice stories from around the web as selected by our staff.
Don Miller spent 60 years amassing a collection of over 40,000 rare artifacts from around the world that he kept on his property in Indiana. He considered himself an amateur archaeologist, and believed he was doing a service to the preservation of culture and human history. But when the FBI showed up, they found the remains of hundreds of people, stolen artifacts and remnants of sacred sites here in the United States, all illegally obtained. It all amounted to the largest seizure and repatriation of stolen artifacts in U.S. history. — Andrew R. Calderon, data reporter
SUPREME COURT NEWS: Court adds two cases on Native American law and issues two opinions granting police officers qualified immunity
By AMY HOWE, Scotusblog, October 18, 2021
The Supreme Court on Monday morning added two new cases, both involving Native Americans, to its docket for this term. The justices also issued two unsigned decisions holding, without oral argument, that police officers are entitled to qualified immunity from lawsuits accusing them of using excessive force. The justices, however, did not act on several of the high-profile petitions that they considered at their private conference last week.
Two new grants on Native American sovereignty
In Denezpi v. United States, the justices agreed to consider whether a prosecution in the Court of Indian Offenses can trigger the Constitution’s double jeopardy clause. The Court of Indian Offenses is a trial court that operates in areas where tribes have jurisdiction over Native Americans, but where there are not tribal courts to fully exercise that jurisdiction. The question is whether the court constitutes a “federal agency” so that a conviction in that court bars a later prosecution in a federal district court for a crime arising out of the same incident. Merle Denezpi, a member of the Navajo tribe, pleaded guilty in the Court of Indian Offenses to an assault charge in 2017. Six months later, a federal grand jury in the U.S. District Court of the District of Colorado indicted Denezpi on a charge of aggravated sexual assault in Indian country based on the same underlying events. He was found guilty and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Denezpi contends that his prosecution in federal court violated the Constitution’s ban on double jeopardy, which prohibits more than one prosecution for the “same offence.” Under a line of cases known as the dual-sovereignty doctrine, a crime under the laws of one sovereign is not the “same offence” as a crime under the laws of a second sovereign. Denezpi argues that the dual-sovereignty doctrine does not apply because the Court of Indian Offenses is a federal agency. The government, which views the court as a tribunal exercising the powers of a Native American tribe, says the dual-sovereignty doctrine permits the subsequent prosecution. The justices will hear oral argument next year, with a decision expected by summer.
In Ysleta del Sur Pueblo v. Texas, the justices will weigh in on a dispute over the application of state standards to tribal gaming operations on Native American land. The case involves a federal law that bars on tribal lands any gaming activities “prohibited by the laws of the State of Texas.” The question is whether the law prohibits any kind of gambling that is banned under state law, or whether it goes further and also prohibits any gaming that the state regulates. The Biden administration recommended that the justices grant review, which the justices did on Monday.
Two summary rulings on qualified immunity
The justices also issued two unsigned opinions in which they summarily – that is, without briefing on the merits or oral argument – reversed rulings by federal courts of appeals holding that police officers were not entitled to qualified immunity in lawsuits accusing them of using excessive force. The court’s opinion in Rivas-Villegas v. Cortesluna arose from a 2016 phone call by a 12-year-old girl reporting that Ramon Cortesluna, her mother’s boyfriend, had a chainsaw and was going to attack them. When Cortesluna came out of the house and – after being told not to – put his hands down, one police officer shot him twice. Officer Daniel Rivas-Villegas pushed him onto the ground and pressed his knee against Cortesluna’s back so that a colleague could handcuff him.
Cortesluna filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the officers, arguing that they had used excessive force against him. A federal trial court concluded that the force used by both officers was reasonable and that the officers were entitled to qualified immunity. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld that conclusion with regard to the officer who fired the shots, but reversed as to Rivas-Villegas. Because it was clearly established, the panel majority reasoned, that it was excessive force for a police officer to press his knee into the back of a suspect lying face down on the ground, hard enough to cause an injury, Rivas-Villegas was not entitled to qualified immunity.
Rivas-Villegas came to the Supreme Court last April, asking the justices to weigh in. In a six-page opinion, the justices reversed the 9th Circuit’s ruling. They emphasized that an official is entitled to qualified immunity when his conduct does not violate clearly established rights, and he would have been aware of those rights. Even if cases in the courts of appeals can qualify as “clearly established” law, the justices continued, the facts of the case on which the 9th Circuit relied were too different from the facts of this case for Rivas-Villegas to be “on notice that his specific conduct was unlawful.”
The court’s second unsigned opinion on Monday — in City of Tahlequah v. Bond — stemmed from a case filed by the estate of Dominic Rollice, a registered sex offender whom police officers were trying to remove from his ex-wife’s home. When asked to drop a clawed hammer, Rollice did not do so, prompting officers to fire at him and kill him. A federal district judge ruled that the officers’ use of force was reasonable and that the officers were entitled to qualified immunity.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit reversed. It ruled both that the officers’ conduct created the situation that led to the shooting, so that their use of force was unconstitutional even if it was reasonable at the moment it was employed. Moreover, the court of appeals concluded, the officers were not entitled to qualified immunity.
The city and the officers came to the Supreme Court in May, and on Monday the justices reversed. The justices explained that they did not need to decide whether the officers’ use of force was unconstitutional because the officers “plainly did not violate any clearly established law.” “Not one of the decisions” on which the 10th Circuit relied, the court stressed, “comes close to establishing that the officers’ conduct was unlawful.”
There were no dissents noted from either of Monday’s summary reversals.
Recommended Citation: Amy Howe, Court adds two cases on Native American law and issues two opinions granting police officers qualified immunity, SCOTUSblog (Oct. 18, 2021, 12:39 PM), https://www.scotusblog.com/2021/10/court-adds-two-cases-on-native-american-law-and-issues-two-opinions-granting-police-officers-qualified-immunity/
PETITIONS OF THE WEEK: Texting in car, surveillance of a home, Section 1983 for Miranda
By ANDREW HAMM
This week we highlight cert petitions that ask the Supreme Court to consider, among other things, whether officers who observe a driver using a cellphone have reasonable suspicion to pull the driver over for texting, whether agents’ around-the-clock video surveillance of a home for 18 months is a “search,” and whether a plaintiff may sue a police officer for questioning without giving Miranda warnings.
Iowa and other states prohibit texting while driving but allow cellphone usage for other purposes, such as navigation. In Steven Struve’s case, Struve v. Iowa, police officers pulled Struve over after observing Struve using a cellphone – for an unidentifiable reason – for 10 seconds while driving. The traffic stop led to Struve’s arrest for having methamphetamine in the backseat. Struve, who was never charged with violating Iowa’s texting-while-driving law, was convicted for possessing a controlled substance. Before trial, the district court rejected Struve’s argument that the officers had violated the Fourth Amendment in pulling him over without reasonable suspicion because they could not tell whether he was texting or using his cellphone legally. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled that the officers’ “common sense” inference that Struve was texting provided reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop. In his petition, Struve argues that the Iowa Supreme Court adopted a minority, and incorrect, position among states with similar laws.
In another Fourth Amendment case, Tuggle v. United States, Travis Tuggle claims that federal agents – without a warrant – maintained around-the-clock video surveillance of his home for 18 months. Tuggle asks the justices to rule that this conduct constituted a “search” under the Fourth Amendment and that the Constitution required the agents to get a warrant. In the decision below, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled that the surveillance was not a search because Tuggle lacked a reasonable expectation of privacy in his movements that were observable to any ordinary passerby. In his petition, Tuggle argues that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit and the Colorado and South Dakota Supreme Courts have considered such long-term surveillance a “search” because it infringes expectation of privacy that society is prepared to recognize as reasonable.
Vega v. Tekoh concerns a plaintiff’s ability to bring a lawsuit for a constitutional violation under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 after a plaintiff is questioned without having been advised of constitutional rights under Miranda v. Arizona. Carlos Vega, a sheriff’s deputy in Los Angeles County, questioned Terence Tekoh, a suspect in an investigation into sexual assault, without giving Tekoh his Miranda warnings. Tekoh confessed. At trial, the court allowed the prosecution to introduce Tekoh’s confession on the ground that the questioning did not violate Miranda because Tekoh was not in custody at the time. The jury, however, found Tekoh not guilty. Tekoh then sued Vega under Section 1983 for failing to give him the Miranda warnings. In his petition, Vega argues that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit’s decision to let Tekoh’s claim proceed was incorrect and in conflict with other circuits. Vega maintains that Miranda governs when statements are admissible as evidence at trial, and that not receiving the warnings is not itself a constitutional violation. Vega also argues that he was not the proximate cause of the confession’s introduction at trial because the prosecutor and the trial judge played intervening and superseding roles.
These and other petitions of the week are below:
Struve v. Iowa
Issue: Whether police officers in the more than 20 states that have laws that prohibit sending text messages on a cellphone while driving, but that allow drivers to use their cellphones for other purposes, such as navigation or playing music, have reasonable suspicion under the Fourth Amendment to initiate an investigatory traffic stop, when they observe a driver briefly holding and manipulating a cellphone, in a manner that does not indicate whether the cellphone is being used for a lawful or prohibited purpose.
Lamoureux v. Montana
Issue: Whether a statute that criminalizes speech intended to annoy or offend is unconstitutionally overbroad under the First Amendment.
Johnson v. Bethany Hospice and Palliative Care LLC
Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to SCOTUSblog in various capacities, is among the counsel to the petitioners in this case.
Issue: Whether Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b) requires plaintiffs in False Claims Act cases who plead a fraudulent scheme with particularity to also plead specific details of false claims.
National Pork Producers Council v. Ross
Issues: (1) Whether allegations that a state law has dramatic economic effects largely outside of the state and requires pervasive changes to an integrated nationwide industry state a violation of the dormant commerce clause, or whether the extraterritoriality principle described in the Supreme Court’s decisions is now a dead letter; and (2) whether such allegations, concerning a law that is based solely on preferences regarding out-of-state housing of farm animals, state a claim under Pike v. Bruce Church, Inc.
Black v. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
Issues: (1) Whether the Employee Retirement Income Security Act permits the termination of a distressed pension plan through an agreement between Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation and the plan administrator; (2) whether termination through such an agreement, which avoids a hearing, violates the participants’ constitutional rights to due process; and (3) whether, if ERISA and due process allow for termination by agreement, the termination’s substantive legality is to be judged under the standards in 29 U.S.C. § 1342(c), or whether it is enough that the conditions in Section 1342(a) to “institute” proceedings may exist.
Vega v. Tekoh
Issue: Whether a plaintiff may state a claim for relief against a law enforcement officer under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based simply on an officer’s failure to provide the warnings prescribed in Miranda v. Arizona.
Bank of America Corporation v. Fund Liquidation Holdings LLC
Issue: Whether a district court lacking Article III jurisdiction can create such jurisdiction by adding a new plaintiff via Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 17.
Tuggle v. United States
Issue: Whether long-term, continuous, and surreptitious video surveillance of a home and its curtilage constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment.
Cases: Struve v. Iowa, Lamoureux v. Montana, Johnson v. Bethany Hospice and Palliative Care LLC, National Pork Producers Council v. Ross, Black v. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, Vega v. Tekoh, Bank of America Corporation v. Fund Liquidation Holdings LLC, Tuggle v. United States
Recommended Citation: Andrew Hamm, Texting in the car, surveillance of a home, and Section 1983 for Miranda, SCOTUSblog (Oct. 22, 2021, 5:29 PM), https://www.scotusblog.com/2021/10/texting-in-the-car-surveillance-of-a-home-and-section-1983-for-miranda/
October 26, 2001. President George W. Bush signs U.S.A. PATRIOT Act. Click for report from history.com.