due process

McCullen v. Coakley

Issues: 

Are state-mandated buffer zones around reproductive health care facilities that prohibit pro-life activists from approaching patients constitutional?

To dissuade women from having abortions, pro-life activists in Massachusetts sometimes attempt to communicate with women as they enter and exit reproductive healthcare facilities. To promote public safety, the Massachusetts legislature passed a law that imposes a thirty-five foot buffer zone around the access points to those clinics, and prohibits people from remaining in the buffer zone with a few exceptions. McCullen represents a group of Massachusetts residents who engage in pro-life counseling and who claim that the buffer zones put them at a disadvantage in their mission. McCullen also argues that the statute violates the First Amendment because it prevents patients who are contemplating having an abortion from obtaining information about alternatives. Coakley, the Massachusetts Attorney General, counters that the purpose of the statute is to prevent violence and facilitate access in and out of those healthcare facilities. The Supreme Court will have the opportunity to consider whether these buffer zones surrounding reproductive healthcare facilities are constitutional. The Court’s ruling will implicate the rights of pro-life and pro-choice activists in promoting their views near these facilities, as well as the rights of individuals seeking services there.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties: 

Massachusetts has made it a crime for speakers to “enter or remain on a public way or sidewalk” within 35 feet of an entrance, exit, or driveway of “a reproductive health care facility.” The law applies only at abortion clinics. The law also exempts, among others, clinic “employees or agents . . . acting within the scope of their employment.” In effect, the law restricts the speech of only those who wish to use public areas near abortion clinics to speak about abortion from a different point of view. 

Petitioners are individuals who believe that women often have abortions because they feel pressured, alone, unloved, and out of options. Petitioners try to position themselves near clinics in an attempt to reach this unique audience, at a unique moment, to offer support, information, and practical assistance. They are peaceful, non-confrontational, and do not obstruct access. Yet, the State prohibits them from entering or standing on large portions of the public sidewalk to proffer leaflets or seek to begin conversations with willing listeners. 

The questions presented are: 

  1. Whether the First Circuit erred in upholding Massachusetts' selective exclusion law under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, on its face and as applied to petitioners. 
  2. If Hill v. Colorado, 530 U.S. 703 (2000), permits enforcement of this law, whether Hill should be limited or overruled.

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Facts

For over three decades, pro-life and pro-choice advocates have battled each other over the best forums for expressing their ideas. See McCullen v. Coakley, 571 F.3d 171, 172 (1st. Cir 2009).

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Kaley v. United States

Issues: 

Do the Fifth and Sixth Amendments require a pretrial, adversarial hearing, at which the defendant may challenge the underlying charges before the government can freeze assets needed by the defendant to retain counsel of choice?

Kerri and Brian Kaley were indicted by a federal grand jury in 2007 for stealing prescription medical devices and selling them on the black market. Along with the indictment, the United States obtained an order to restrain assets traceable to the alleged crime. Because those assets were needed to retain the Kaleys’ counsel of choice, the Kaleys contested the order as violative of their Fifth Amendment right to due process and of their Sixth Amendment right to counsel of choice. Those rights, the Kaleys argued, entitled them to a full pretrial, adversarial hearing at which to challenge the validity of the forfeiture. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Kaleys are entitled only to a hearing at which to challenge the assets’ traceability to the crime—not the underlying charges as well. The Supreme Court’s ruling in this case will impact not only the scope of pretrial asset restraint hearings, but also the ease with which the government may seize assets, as well as defendants’ ability to retain counsel of their choice.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties: 

When a post-indictment, ex parte restraining order freezes assets needed by a criminal defendant to retain counsel of choice, do the Fifth and Sixth Amendments require a pre-trial, adversarial hearing at which the defendant may challenge the evidentiary support and legal theory of the underlying charges?

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DaimlerChrysler AG v. Bauman

Issues: 

Does a federal court have jurisdiction over a foreign corporation not incorporated in the forum state solely because the corporation’s indirect corporate subsidiary performs services for the corporation in the forum state?

During the Argentine “Dirty War” of the 1970s, between 10,000 to 30,000 left-wing sympathizers disappeared. In 2004, Bauman and twenty-two Argentine citizens or residents sued DaimlerChrysler AG (“DCAG”) for violations under the Alien Tort Claims Act, claiming that DCAG’s subsidiary in Argentina ordered state security forces to rid its plant of left-wing sympathizers. DaimlerChrysler is a German company that does not manufacture or sell products in the US, but owns a subsidiary, Mercedes Benz, that sells DCAG products in the US. Bauman sued in the Northern District of California, claiming that the court had general personal jurisdiction over DCAG via Mercedes Benz USA’s contacts with California. The Ninth Circuit held that DCAG is subject to general personal jurisdiction in California because it has an indirect subsidiary that distributes DCAG-manufactured vehicles in California. Thus, the court concluded that DCAG could be sued in California for the company’s alleged human rights violations committed by an Argentine subsidiary against Argentine residents. DCAG claims that neither an alter ego theory nor agency theory establish the necessary minimum contacts to extend personal jurisdiction over DCAG. Bauman argues that the Ninth Circuit properly found general personal jurisdiction because agency theory establishes DCAG’s necessary minimum contacts with California. The Supreme Court’s decision will determine the boundaries of general personal jurisdiction—specifically, whether an indirect corporate subsidiary’s contacts with a forum state can be imputed to the parent company to confer personal jurisdiction over the parent company.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties: 

Whether it violates due process for a court to exercise general personal jurisdiction over a foreign corporation based solely on the fact that an indirect corporate subsidiary performs services on behalf of the corporation in the forum state. 

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Metrish v. Lancaster

Issues: 
  1. Does the abolishment of a diminished-capacity defense represent an "unexpected and indefensible" change in state common law in violation of the retroactivity constraints of due process?
  2. Did the Michigan Court of Appeal's retroactive application of the Michigan Supreme Court decision lack justification to the extent that there could be no reasonable disagreement as to justifying habeas relief?

Former Detroit police officer Burt Lancaster shot and killed his girlfriend, Toni King, in 1993. As a result, the State of Michigan charged Burt Lancaster with first-degree murder and possession of a firearm while committing a felony. Although Lancaster, who has a history of mental illness, asserted both defenses of insanity and diminished capacity during his initial trial in 1994, a Michigan jury convicted Lancaster on both counts. Lancaster's conviction was subsequently overturned, however, because of an error made by the State during jury selection. The State of Michigan retried Lancaster in 2005. Although Lancaster planned to rely completely on his diminished capacity defense during his second trial, the Michigan trial court prohibited Lancaster from doing so on the grounds that the Michigan Supreme Court abolished the defense in 2001. As Lancaster was unable to assert the diminished capacity defense at his second trial, the Michigan state court convicted Lancaster once again and sentenced him to life plus two years in prison. Lancaster petitioned the federal courts for a writ of habeas corpus. While the District Court denied Lancaster's petition, the Sixth Circuit reversed, finding that the retroactive application of the Michigan Supreme Court's abolishment of the diminished capacity defense violated federal due process. On appeal, the State of Michigan argues that the Michigan state court's decision to prohibit the diminished capacity defense was not an "unexpected and indefensible" abrogation of Michigan law because the diminished capacity defense has never been expressly provided by Michigan statute nor has it been a part of settled Michigan common law. Lancaster responds that he has the constitutional right to present the diminished capacity defense because the defense was well-settled under Michigan law and available to him at the time he committed the murder. The State of Indiana and others argue in support of Michigan, asserting that diminished capacity is a state law issue and federal courts should defer to a state court's analysis. Lancaster responds that the Michigan state court's decision was unreasonable and that a federal court should independently review the Michigan state court's determination. This decision will further outline the prohibition on changes in state judge-made law by determining when the retroactivity prohibition can be used to justify granting habeas corpus relief and by further defining what constitutes an "unexpected and indefensible" change to the common law.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties: 
  1. Whether the Michigan Supreme Court's recognition that a state statute abolished the long-maligned diminished-capacity defense was an "unexpected and indefensible" change in a common-law doctrine of criminal law under this Court's retroactivity jurisprudence. See Rogers v. Tennessee, 532 U.S. 451 (2001).
  2. Whether the Michigan Court of Appeals' retroactive application of the Michigan Supreme Court's decision was "so lacking in justification that there was an error well understood and comprehended in existing law beyond any possibility for fair-minded disagreement" so as to justify habeas relief. Harrington v. Richter, 131 S. Ct. 770, 786-87 (2011).

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Facts

In April of 1993, Lancaster shot and killed his girlfriend, Toni King, in a parking lot outside of a Michigan shopping mall. Lancaster v. Metrish, 683 F.3d 740, 742 (6th Cir.

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Evans v. Michigan

A Michigan trial court granted defendant-petitioner Lamar Evans a directed verdict of not guilty after the State of Michigan charged him with burning property because the State of Michigan failed to prove that the property Evans allegedly burned was not a dwelling. Upon appeal, the Michigan Supreme Court determined that the trial court erred when it required the State of Michigan to prove that the property was not a dwelling. Furthermore, the Michigan Supreme Court held that the Double Jeopardy Clause of both the Fifth Amendment and the Michigan Constitution did not bar Evans’ retrial for the same offense because the error involved an element that was added to the offense. As a result, the directed verdict did not relate to an actual factual element of the case and therefore failed to address Evans’ guilt or innocence of the charged offense. Evans now appeals to the Supreme Court of the United States, arguing that the Michigan Supreme Court erroneously carved out a novel “Extra Element” exception to the Double Jeopardy Clause. This decision will further define the outer limits of protection that the Double Jeopardy Clause offers to defendants and the types of rulings that prosecutors can appeal. 

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties: 

Does the Double Jeopardy Clause bar retrial after the trial judge erroneously holds a particular fact to be an element of the offense and then grants a mid-trial directed verdict of acquittal because the prosecution failed to prove that fact?

Issue

Does the Double Jeopardy clause bar retrial when the trial judge directs a verdict of acquittal because the prosecution failed to prove a fact that was ultimately not an element of the charged crime?

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Smith, et al., v. United States

Petitioner Calvin Smith was involved in a criminal drug distribution organization and imprisoned for a related murder in 1994. In 2000, a grand jury brought indictments against him. Smith defended his two conspiracy charges on the grounds that the statute of limitations barred his conviction because he had withdrawn from the conspiracy more than five years ago. The trial court directed the jury that the burden of proof was on Smith as defendant to prove withdrawal by a preponderance of the evidence. Smith claims his participation in the conspiracy during the statutory period is a necessary element of his crime that the government must prove. Additionally, since withdrawal and participation are mutually exclusive, his withdrawal would negate an essential element of the government's case against him. The United States argues that withdrawal is an affirmative defense, and the burden of proof lies with the defendant. This case will define the boundaries of Due Process Protection in conspiracy cases and similar cases involving amorphous and on-going criminal activity.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties: 

Whether withdrawing from a conspiracy prior to the statute of limitations period negates an element of a conspiracy charge such that, once a defendant meets his burden of production that he did so withdraw, the burden of persuasion rests with the government to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was a member of the conspiracy during the relevant period -- a fundamental due process question that is the subject of a well-developed circuit split.

Issue(s)

Whether requiring the defendant to bear the burden of proving withdrawal from a conspiracy as an affirmative defense violates Due Process.

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