Sixth Amendment

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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Boyer v. Louisiana

The State of Louisiana indicted Jonathan Edward Boyer for the murder of Bradlee Marsh in 2002, but the case did not proceed to trial until 2009. The trial resulted in Boyer’s conviction, and a state appellate court affirmed. Boyer now argues before the Supreme Court that Louisiana violated his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial. Specifically, Boyer alleges that five years of delay were caused entirely by Louisiana’s failure to fund his appointed, capitally-certified counsel and that this funding failure should be weighed against the state. Louisiana counters that Boyer has no constitutional right to capitally-certified counsel and that Boyer, not the State, is responsible for the delay. In resolving the question presented, the Supreme Court will determine whether a state’s failure to fund appointed, specially-qualified counsel for an indigent capital defendant should be weighed against the state for speedy trial purposes. The decision may substantially affect indigent defendants’ constitutional rights as well as state procedures for providing indigent capital defense.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties: 

Whether a state’s failure to fund counsel for an indigent defendant for five years, particularly where failure was the direct result of the prosecution’s choice to seek the death penalty, should be weighed against the state for speedy trial purposes?

Issue

Whether the State of Louisiana’s five-year failure to fund appointed, specially-qualified counsel for an indigent defendant in a capital case should be weighed against the State for speedy trial purposes?

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Alleyne v. United States

A jury found Allen Alleyne guilty of robbery under a federal statue, but the jury did not find him guilty of brandishing a weapon during the robbery. A federal criminal statute provides that a judge can raise the mandatory minimum sentence for robbery with a finding that it was more likely than not that the defendant brandished a firearm. Thus, a judge’s finding can raise the mandatory minimum prison sentence even when a jury was unable to come to that same conclusion beyond a reasonable doubt. The Supreme Court allowed such findings from judges in Harris v. United States. Now, the court will reconsider that position or have the opportunity to further clarify how much sentencing discretion can be given to judges under federal statutes.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties: 

Whether this Court’s decision in Harris v. United States, 536 U.S. 545 (2002), should be overruled.

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Issue(s)

Should the Supreme Court overrule Harris v. United States and require that a jury find facts beyond a reasonable doubt in order to enhance a sentence beyond the ordinarily prescribed statutory maximum?

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Descamps v. United States (11-9540)

Matthew Descamps was sentenced to 262 months in prison after the Ninth Circuit found that he had committed his third violent felony, in violation of the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). The contested violent felony was a 1978 conviction for burglary of a California grocery store. Under the California burglary statute, one can be convicted of burglary without an explicit finding that entry into the burgled premises was itself unlawful.  The element of unlawful entry is required under the generic burglary statute described in the ACCA. The Ninth Circuit found the “unlawful entry” element to be necessarily satisfied by the plea bargain agreed to by Descamps, thus subjecting him to the mandatory fifteen-year minimum prison sentence required under the ACCA. How the Supreme Court decides this case will determine how sentencing courts use factual assertions surrounding a prior conviction in situations where a violent crime as defined under the ACCA contains elements absent from the crime for which the defendant was convicted.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties: 

1. Whether the Ninth Circuit's ruling in United States v. Aguila-Montes De Oca, 655 F.3d 915 (9th Cir. 2011), (En Banc) that a state conviction for burglary where the statute is missing an element of the generic crime, may be subject to the modified categorical approach, even though most other Circuit Courts of Appeal would not allow it.

2. Whether is it time for this Court to overrule Almandez-Torres v. United States, 523 U.S. 224 (1998), apply Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 224 (2000), and require an Indictment and trial on the issue of application of the Armed Career Criminal Act.

3. Whether the Ninth Circuit's ruling in the instant case was in derogation of the requirements in Taylor v. United States, 495 U.S. 575 (1990) and Shepard v. United States, 544 U.S. 13 (2005).

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Issue(s) 

1. Whether the Ninth Circuit can find a missing element to be satisfied by using a modified categorical approach.
2. Whether imposition of the Armed Career Criminal Act should require a separate indictment and trial.

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Chaidez v. United States (11-820)

In 2003, Roselva Chaidez pleaded guilty to an “aggravated felony” under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (“IIRIRA”), but her lawyer failed to inform her that her plea made her eligible for deportation. Subsequently, the Supreme Court held in Padilla v. Kentucky that the right to effective assistance of counsel includes a duty to inform defendants of deportation consequences of a plea deal if the consequences are clear. Nevertheless, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that Padilla did not apply retroactively to Chaidez’s conviction. Chaidez argues that the Supreme Court should hold that Padilla was dictated by precedent (and therefore not a new rule) and is retroactively applicable to her case. The United States counters that Padilla was not dictated by precedent (and therefore was a new rule) and is not retroactively applicable to Chaidez’s conviction. Chaidez argues that Padilla should be retroactively applied because to hold otherwise would undermine the obligation of prosecutors to “seek justice,” which requires using their knowledge of immigration consequences when considering to alter convictions. In response, the United States counters that retroactively applying Padilla would allow defendants to avoid the consequences of their convictions based on a minor error by a lawyer. 

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties: 

In Padilla v. Kentucky, 130 S. Ct. 1473 (2010), this Court held that criminal defendants receive ineffective assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment when their attorneys fail to advise them that pleading guilty to an offense will subject them to deportation.

The question presented is whether Padilla applies to persons whose convictions became final before its announcement.

Issue

Does the recent Supreme Court decision Padilla v. Kentucky, which allows an individual to contest a conviction based on a lawyer’s failure to provide information of the deportation consequences to pleading guilty, apply to individuals with convictions made final before the Court decided Padilla

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Additional Resources: 

·         Agence France-Presse, Supreme Court will rule on if deportation ruling is retroactive, The Raw Story.

·         The New York Times, Court Requires Warning about Deportation Risk, Adam Liptak.

·         Wex: Immigration Law.

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Johnson v. Williams (11-465)

Tara Williams was on trial in California state court for special circumstances murder and firearm enhancement. During the trial, over Williams’s objections, the court dismissed a juror on the grounds that he was biased against the prosecution. After an alternate replaced the dismissed juror, the jury convicted Williams on both counts. Williams appealed, claiming that the juror’s dismissal had violated California state law as well as her Sixth Amendment rights. The California Court of Appeals affirmed Williams’ conviction, but only did so by addressing her state law claims, ultimately failing to explicitly discuss the Sixth Amendment issues raised. Williams then filed a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 alleging a violation of her Sixth Amendment rights. Though the federal district court denied her petition, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed, finding that Williams’ Sixth Amendment claim had not yet been “adjudicated on the merits” within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). Warden Deborah K. Johnson appealed, claiming that the California Court of Appeals’ prior ruling was an adjudication on the merits and therefore precluded the subsequent habeas petition.  How the Supreme Court decides the case will determine the degree of deference a federal court hearing a petition for habeas corpus will give a state court decision that does not explicitly address the federal grounds for relief.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties: 

Whether a habeas petitioner's claim has been “adjudicated on the merits” for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) where the state court denied relief in an explained decision but did not expressly acknowledge a federal-law basis for the claim.

Issue

Whether an issue not addressed in a state court opinion has been “adjudicated on the merits” for the purposes of federal habeas corpus review when the state court gave a detailed opinion mentioning other claims but apparently ignored the constitutional grounds for relief.

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Additional Resources: 

Michael O'Hear, A Test for Richter’s Reach (Jan. 31, 2012)

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