Federal Criminal Cases in Focus: Petitions to the Supreme Court

As a law firm focusing on representing people charged with federal crimes in North Carolina, we aim to keep our clients and the public informed about crucial legal matters. In this article, we will provide an overview of some noteworthy petitions to the United States Supreme Court for certiorari, each addressing various issues that could significantly impact federal criminal law.

  • Brown v. Louisiana: This case revolves around whether a person's confession that they and another individual committed a crime—without mentioning the defendant—is considered favorable and material evidence under Brady v. Maryland if the defendant denies participating in the crime. The outcome of this case could redefine the scope of evidence considered under Brady, affecting the presentation of evidence and disclosure obligations in future cases.
  • Hamm v. Smith: The question at hand is whether an alternative method of execution is feasible and readily implemented simply because the executing state has statutorily authorized it, in the context of an Eighth Amendment method-of-execution case. The decision could affect the constitutionality of various execution methods and the burden of proof placed on inmates challenging those methods.
  • Burns v. Mays: This case poses several questions relating to ineffective assistance claims in capital sentencing, including counsel's failure to introduce residual doubt evidence, failure to establish the defendant's lesser moral culpability, and postponing preparations for sentencing until a brief post-guilt phase recess. The outcome could have significant implications for the standards by which ineffective assistance claims are assessed and the preparation and presentation of evidence in capital cases.
  • Hemphill v. New York: The Court will consider whether the improper admission of an out-of-court statement by an alternative suspect was so insignificant as to be harmless under Chapman v. California. This decision could further clarify the scope and application of the harmless-error doctrine and influence the admissibility of certain types of evidence in future trials.
  • Pace v. U.S.: This case focuses on the interpretation of "and" in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(f)(1), determining whether a defendant is eligible for the safety-valve provision in certain circumstances. The outcome could have a substantial impact on the application of this provision in future cases, affecting sentencing outcomes for numerous defendants.
  • Herrera v. U.S.: The question at hand is whether, under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 12, petitioners can bring a facial constitutional challenge to their statute of conviction under the Commerce Clause in a post-trial motion instead of a pretrial motion. The decision could shape the timing and procedure for raising constitutional challenges to statutes of conviction.
  • Jones v. U.S.: This case will address whether the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment requires vacating a criminal conviction when the government refuses to seek immunity for a defense witness. The outcome could affect the government's obligations regarding defense witnesses and the rights of defendants to present evidence.
  • Pennington v. West Virginia: The Court will decide whether police can enter a home without probable cause that a person for whom they have an arrest warrant resides there and is currently present within. This decision could impact the Fourth Amendment protections afforded to individuals and the scope of police authority when executing arrest warrants.
  • Mangine v. Withers: This case involves the availability of relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e) for federal prisoners challenging errors in their sentences and whether the erroneous deprivation of a statutory right to seek a sentence reduction constitutes a miscarriage of justice. The outcome could affect the availability and scope of relief for prisoners challenging their sentences.
  • Wilkerson v. U.S.: The Court will consider whether the government must establish subjective intent to engage in unlawful conduct to convict a defendant of health care fraud and violation of the anti-kickback statute. The decision could clarify the required elements of these offenses, impacting the burden of proof on the government and potentially affecting the outcomes of future health care fraud and anti-kickback cases.
  • Lazarenko v. U.S.: This case raises questions about the forfeiture of substitute property under 21 U.S.C. § 853(p) without determining whether the property is "tainted" or "untainted" and whether untainted property can be forfeited when tainted property is available. The outcome could influence how courts handle asset forfeiture in federal criminal cases and the types of property subject to forfeiture.
  • Chestnut v. Allen: The Court will decide whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit violated 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) limitations when overturning a state death sentence on the basis that the respondent's mental health evidence was not given "meaningful consideration and effect" despite the judge stating he considered all mental health evidence. This decision could impact the standards by which federal courts review state court decisions in capital cases and the weight given to mental health evidence in capital sentencing.
  • Moore v. U.S.: The question before the Court is whether long-term police use of a surveillance camera targeted at a person's home and curtilage constitutes a Fourth Amendment search. The outcome of this case could affect the scope of Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures in the context of modern surveillance technology.

These petitions to the United States Supreme Court cover a broad range of legal issues related to federal criminal law. Their outcomes could significantly impact the rights of defendants, the obligations of law enforcement and prosecution, and the procedures employed in criminal cases. As lawyers focused on representing people in federal criminal matters, we will continue to monitor these cases and keep our clients and the public informed about their outcomes and implications.