Supreme Court Opinions

The Federal Docket

Ruan v. United States (U.S. Supreme Court, June 2022)

In a 6-3 opinion, the Supreme Court held that the prosecution in a “pill mill” case, where a doctor has been charged with unlawfully prescribing drugs, must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the doctor was acting in a manner not authorized by the statute, i.e. that the doctor knew that their prescribing practices were unauthorized and was not acting in “good faith.” Previously, doctors could be convicted if their prescriptions were not for a legitimate purpose or otherwise not within the usual course of a professional medical practice–a standard resembling negligence.

Concepcion v. United States (U.S. Supreme Court, June 2022)

In a 5-4 opinion, the Supreme Court held that courts considering an inmate’s motion to reduce sentence pursuant to Section 404(b) of the First Step Act, which applies to crack-cocaine convictions, may consider all relevant materials when considering whether to modify, and by how much, the inmate’s sentence. Some legal scholars believe the opinion should help resolve the circuit split regarding what circumstances a court can consider when reviewing an inmate’s motion for “compassionate release.”

Vega v. Tekoh (U.S. Supreme Court, June 2022)

In a 6-3 opinion, the Supreme Court held that an officer’s interrogation in violation of Miranda does not create a constitutional claim under 42 USC 1983. The Court took a narrow view of Miranda warnings as merely a vehicle to protect other underlying rights, not as an underlying right itself.

Nance v. Ward (U.S. Supreme Court, June 2022)

In a 5-4 opinion, the Supreme Court held that a 1983 claim was the proper vehicle for a death row inmate challenging his manner of execution.

Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta (U.S. Supreme Court, June 2022)

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court held that the federal government and state government have concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute non-Indians for crimes committed against Indians in Indian country, notwithstanding its recent holding in McGirt v. Oklahoma or Chief Justice Marshall’s 1832 decision in Worcester v. Georgia.

Denezpi v. United States (U.S. Supreme Court, June 2022)

In a 6-3 opinion, the Supreme Court held that the double jeopardy clause does not prohibit subsequent prosecutions under two different codes, here the U.S. Code and the Ute Mountain Ute Code, based on the same underlying conduct. The Court reasoned that the Fifth Amendment prohibits multiple prosecutions for the same “offense,” and offenses are separate if they are defined by separate sovereigns, even if their elements are identical.

Denezpi v. United States (U.S. Supreme Court, June 2022)

In a 6-3 opinion, the Supreme Court affirmed a defendant’s federal conviction, rejecting the defendant’s argument that he could not be prosecuted by the feds after they had already prosecuted him for violations of tribal law based on the same conduct. The Court reasoned that, regardless of the fact that the federal government prosecuted both cases, the offenses being prosecuted were distinct because they were defined by distinct sovereigns–the federal government and the Utes sovereign reservation.

United States v. Taylor (U.S. Supreme Court, June 2022)

In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court held that attempted Hobbs Act robbery does not qualify as a “crime of violence” under 924(c) “because no element of the offense requires proof that the defendant used, attempted to use, or threatened to use force.” Applying the categorical approach, the Court held that a generic defendant could be convicted of attempted Hobbs Act robbery without using or threatening force based simply on their “intent” and their taking a non-forceful “substantial step.”

Shoop v. Twyford (U.S. Supreme Court, June 2022)

In a 5-4 opinion, the Supreme Court held that federal district courts do not have the authority under the All Writs Act to issue a transportation order for a prisoner held in state custody so the prisoner may search for exonerating evidence in an evidentiary hearing. To issue such an order, an inmate petitioner must make a showing that the evidence is admissible and supports one of their possible habeas claims. The decision limits district courts’ ability to develop and consider new evidence in Habeas cases.

Shinn v. Martinez Ramirez (SCOTUS, May 2022)

In a 6-3 opinion, the Supreme Court held that there is no right to counsel in state post-conviction proceedings and, as such, a petitioner’s ineffective assistance claim must be evident on the face of the state court record, rather than developed through an evidentiary hearing.

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