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Granting certiorari to Philip Morris USA (now part of the Altria Group) on Oct. 6, the justices summarily vacated a $79.5 million punitive award to the family of an Oregon man who died of lung cancer in 1997. Philip Morris USA v. Williams, No. 02-1553. In their suit against the cigarette maker, Jesse Williams’ family alleged that he had smoked the company’s Marlboro brand cigarettes for 42 years. Remanding the case to the intermediate Oregon Court of Appeals, the justices said that the state court should reconsider the punitive award in light of the high court’s spring 2003 ruling in State Farm Mut. Automobile Ins. Co. v. Campbell, 123 S. Ct. 1513. In Campbell, the court said that punitive damages must be reasonable and proportionate to the harm suffered. On Sept. 30, the justices agreed to hear arguments in the following four cases. Six other grants of certiorari on the same date were discussed in Marcia Coyle’s Oct. 6, NLJ article, “Attorney Fee Case Added to High Court Docket.” Supreme Court decision in Farm Mut. Automobile Ins. Co. v. Campbell CONSTITUTIONAL LAW The high court will hear arguments on whether a trial court’s admonition to a pro se defendant was adequate under the Sixth Amendment. Iowa v. Tovar, No. 02-1541. Felipe Tovar, a college student charged with a drunken-driving offense, appeared at his plea hearing pro se. Though the court advised Tovar of the benefits an attorney would provide should Tovar plead “not guilty” and proceed to trial, the court did not offer similar advice about the usefulness of an attorney during the plea stage. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled the trial court’s admonition was deficient. Iowa Supreme Court decision NATIVE AMERICAN LAW The high court will hear arguments on the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968. Billy Jo Lara was arrested on the Spirit Lake Nation Reservation for violence against a police officer. The tribal court prosecuted him, even though he was not a member of the tribe. After his conviction, charges were brought against him in federal court for the same occurrence. He claimed his prosecution was barred by double jeopardy, but the 8th Circuit ruled that because the power of the tribe and that of the federal government derived from separate sources, constitutional protections against double jeopardy did not apply. U.S. v. Lara, No. 03-0107. 8th Circuit decision NATURAL RESOURCES The justices will also hear a minerals rights case from the 9th Circuit. The Pittman Underground Water Act gave grants to those who found water in the Nevada desert, but reserved for the United States “all the coal and other valuable minerals.” BedRoc Ltd. resisted U.S. attempts to reserve the sand and gravel found on their grant, but the 9th Circuit, affirming the district court, ruled sand and gravel were not “valuable minerals.” BedRoc Ltd. v. U.S., No. 02-1593. 9th Circuit decision TAXATION Another federalism question will be considered when the justices hear arguments on a case from the 9th Circuit over whether principles of comity that traditionally restrain federal judicial interference with state tax systems require district courts to dismiss constitutional challenges to state tax credits that have a direct impact on the administration of the state’s tax system. Hibbs v. Winn, No. 02-1809. At issue is whether an Arizona statute permitting tax credits for contributions that support parochial schools violates the establishment clause. The 9th Circuit ruled that the case did not have to be dismissed. 9th Circuit decision

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