US Supreme Court Cases dealing with criminal law and procedure By Kenneth Vercammen Past Vice Chair ABA Criminal Law Committee General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division
1. No specific words required for Miranda warnings Florida v. Powell 175 L.Ed 1009 __ S. Ct. ___ (Dec. 7, 2009) In a state prosecution for possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, a reversal of defendant's conviction on Miranda grounds is reversed where the police satisfied Miranda's requirements by informing defendant that he had "the right to talk to a lawyer before answering any of their questions," and that he had "the right to use any of his rights at any time he wanted during the interview. Advice that a suspect has “the right to talk to a lawyer before answering any of [the law enforcement officers’] questions,” and that he can invoke this right “at any time . . . during the interview,” satisfies Miranda. 2 US Supreme Court Rules Lab Report Not Admissible in Criminal Case. MelendezDiaz v. Mass 129 S.Ct. 2527 (2009) Defendant's drug conviction is reversed, where the trial court's admission of the prosecution's certificates by laboratory analysts, stating that material seized by police and connected to Defendant was cocaine of a certain quantity, violated petitioner's Sixth Amendment right to confront the witnesses against him. 3 Police May Interrogate Even if Public Defender Assigned. Montejo v. Louisiana 129 S. Ct. 2079 (2009) Michigan v. Jackson, which forbids police from initiating interrogation of a criminal defendant once he has invoked his right to counsel at an arraignment or similar proceeding, is overturned. Source: New Jersey Law Journal June 1, 2009 4. School Officials Cannot Search Child’s Underwear for Drugs. Safford Unified School. Dist. No. 1. v. Redding 129 S.Ct. 2633 (2009)
In a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 action alleging an unlawful search of a student, the denial of summary judgment based on qualified immunity is affirmed where the search of Plaintiff's underwear violated the Fourth Amendment because the facts did not give school officials reasonable suspicion to search her underwear.
5. US v. Stevens, No. 08–769 U.S. Supreme Court, April 20, 2010 The Third Circuit's reversal of defendant's conviction under 18 U.S.C. section 48 for selling videos depicting dog fighting is affirmed where section 48 was substantially overbroad, and therefore invalid under the First Amendment, because section 48 explicitly regulated expression based on content and was thus presumptively invalid 5. Padilla v Kentucky ___ S. Ct. _____ No. 08–651. Argued October 13, 2009 —Decided March 31, 2010 Petitioner Padilla, a lawful permanent resident of the United States for over 40 years, faced deportation after pleading guilty to drug distribution charges in Kentucky. In post conviction proceedings, he claims that his counsel not only failed to advise him of this consequence before he entered the plea, but also told him not to worry about deportation since he had lived in this country so long. He alleges that he would have gone to trial had he not received this incorrect advice The US Supreme Court held Because counsel must inform a client whether his plea carries a risk of deportation, Padilla has sufficiently alleged that his counsel was constitutionally deficient 6. Police can Enter Home Under Emergency Aid Exception Michigan v. Fisher 130 S. Ct 546 U.S. Supreme Court December 07, 2009 No. 09–91 In an assault prosecution, grant of petitioner's motion to suppress evidence that he pointed a rifle at an officer when he entered his house is reversed where the officer did not violate the Fourth Amendment because he was responding to a report of a disturbance and encountered a tumultuous situation in the house, which justified a warrantless search under the emergency aid exception