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The U.S. Supreme Court on April 22 and 23 rendered decisions in the following cases: CIVIL PROCEDURE In a unanimous decision written by Justice Antonin Scalia, the justices reversed a South Carolina Supreme Court decision to reverse a wrongful death verdict against a county. Jinks v. Richland County, South Carolina, No. 02-258. The state court had held that the state law claims were untimely because 28 U.S.C. 1367, which tolls the statute of limitations for supplemental state claims during the pendency of related federal court claims, was unconstitutional as applied to claims filed against a state’s political subdivisions in a state court. Remanding, the justices ruled that the application of � 1367 to claims brought against a political subdivision is constitutional because it does not exceed Congress’ enumerated powers. Justice David Souter concurred. CRIMINAL PRACTICE In a unanimous decision penned by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the court reversed a 2d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that a man convicted of murder had procedurally defaulted and could not move the trial court to vacate his conviction on ineffective-assistance grounds because he had already directly appealed the conviction on evidentiary grounds. Massaro v. U.S., No. 01-1559. When initially appealing the admission of a late-discovered piece of evidence that was not disclosed by the prosecution until after the trial started, the defendant’s new lawyer also failed to challenge the first attorney’s effectiveness. The prior attorney declined a trial court offer for a continuance to examine that late-discovered evidence before it was admitted. Reversing and remanding, Kennedy said that forcing defendants to bring ineffective-assistance claims on direct appeal would create a risk that defendants would feel compelled to bring such claims before there has been an opportunity fully to develop the claim’s factual predicate before the district court. EMPLOYMENT LAW In a 7-2 decision, the justices reversed a 9th Circuit ruling that four physician-shareholders of a medical clinic were employees for purposes of a suit filed against the clinic under the Americans With Disabilities Act. Clackamas Gastroenterology Assocs. v. Wells, No. 01-1435. The physicians had argued that the clinic was not covered by the act because it did not have the minimum required number of employees. In the absence of a statutory definition of “employee” within the ADA, the high court looked to the definition used by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It concluded that under the EEOC’s definition, the shareholders would be considered employees. Acknowledging that the district court’s findings appeared to weigh in favor of the opposite result, the justices remanded for further proceedings. Justice John Paul Stevens’ opinion was joined by Chief Justice William Rehnquist and justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Clarence Thomas, Souter, Kennedy and Scalia. Joined by Justice Stephen Breyer, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented. INTERNATIONAL LAW The court affirmed a 9th Circuit decision holding that two Israel-based foreign chemical companies that were impleaded into a suit with a food company were not instrumentalities of a foreign state under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. Dole Food Co. v. Patrickson, No. 01-593. The justices held that the foreign companies did not meet the act’s instrumentality definition because the state of Israel had no direct ownership in the companies and they were separated from the government by one or more intermediate corporate tiers. Kennedy wrote the opinion for a unanimous court with respect to three parts of the opinion, and a fourth in which Rehnquist, Stevens, Scalia, Souter, Thomas and Ginsburg joined. Joined by O’Connor, Breyer concurred in part and dissented in part. TAXATION In a unanimous opinion written by O’Connor, the justices ruled that the state of Nevada is not required to give full faith and credit to a California law that would immunize that state’s Franchise Tax Board from intentional torts it may have committed in the course of its pursuit of a former California taxpayer. Franchise Tax Board of Calif. v. Hyatt, No. 02-42. After the taxpayer had moved from California to Nevada, the Franchise Tax Board initiated audit proceedings, then issued notices of proposed assessments and imposed civil fraud penalties against the taxpayer. When the taxpayer sued in Nevada state court, alleging that the board had committed both negligent and intentional torts, the board moved for dismissal, arguing that under California law it was immune from suit. Affirming a Nevada Supreme Court ruling that the intentional tort claims should stand, the justices held that full faith and credit is only “exacting” with respect to enforcement of judgments. and that Nevada was not compelled to substitute another state’s statute concerning subject matter over which it is competent to legislate. CERT. GRANTED On April 21, the high court agreed to hear argument in the following cases: CIVIL RIGHTS The court will resolve a circuit split involving reverse discrimination claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). General Dynamics Land Systems Inc. v. Cline, No. 02-1080. A class of General Dynamics employees tried to sue under the ADEA for a health benefits policy that granted full benefits upon retirement to employers who were then older than 50. Unlike the 1st and 7th circuits, the 6th Circuit ruled that the ADEA prohibits cases challenging an employer’s actions, practices or policies that treat older workers more favorably than younger workers who are at least 40. CRIMINAL PRACTICE The court will hear arguments as to whether police can search the vehicle of a suspect wanted on a charge of driving on a suspended license, who was arrested, but not as the result of a traffic stop. Arizona v. Gant, No. 02-1019. Rodney Joseph Gant drove into the driveway of a home where police had come to find him. Officers arrested him after he got out of the car and confirmed his identity. A subsequent search of the car yielded cocaine and a firearm. Based on the warrantless search, an Arizona appeals court reversed Gant’s conviction. In the second Miranda-related case to be granted certiorari in a month, the justices will consider whether physical evidence derived from a suspect’s statement, made voluntarily but without Miranda rights, must be suppressed. U.S. v. Patane, No. 02-1183. Upon arresting Samuel Francis Patane on a harassment-and-menacing charge, police officers stopped giving Patane his Miranda rights after he said he knew what his rights were. Patane then told officers about a firearm in the house and he was eventually convicted of possessing that firearm as a felon. Reversing, the 10th Circuit said that both his statement and the gun should have been suppressed. The court will also hear arguments in another capital punishment case to determine whether a Texas death row inmate had effective trial counsel, whether the prosecution hid exculpatory evidence and whether the testimony of two prosecution witnesses was credible. Banks v. Cockrell, No. 02-8286. The justices granted a stay of execution to Delma Banks Jr. in March, after the 5th Circuit reinstated the conviction a federal district court had overturned. Banks was convicted of the 1980 killing of a co-worker. Banks has been on Texas’ death row longer than anyone else. SECURITIES LAW The justices will decide whether the 11th Circuit erred when it dismissed a complaint filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission against the operator of what the SEC called “a massive ponzi scheme,” involving more than 10,000 investors, on the grounds that the district court did not have subject matter jurisdiction over the case. Securities and Exchange Comm’n v. Edwards, No. 02-1196. Using a trio of corporations, Charles E. Edwards had the investors buy pay phones from him, then lease the phones back to one of his companies in exchange for a fixed monthly management fee. Two of the businesses stopped making their lease payments and filed for bankruptcy. But the 11th Circuit concluded that the suit did not involve securities and thus was not governed by either the Securities Act of 1933 or the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934.

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