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The U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 15 agreed to decide whether Vice President Dick Cheney must turn over records from his secretive energy policy task force to two public interest watchdog groups. Cheney v. U.S. District Court for the Dist. of Columbia, No. 03-475. A divided district court last year allowed the plaintiffs Sierra Club and Judicial Watch to pursue their attempts at gaining access to the group’s membership roster and records. The plaintiffs contend that under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the vice president can be compelled to release records of the task force, which was convened to gather information and advise President George W. Bush on national energy policy. They allege that the task force included private industry representatives and lobbyists who were not expressly authorized by the president when he announced the group’s formation. The vice president maintains that there were no nongovernmental members on the committee and that the lower court’s order violates the principle of separation of powers and impairs the president’s ability to receive uninhibited advice from key advisors. The high court on Dec. 15 also rendered decisions in two cases and granted certiorari in two others. CRIMINAL PRACTICE In a unanimous decision penned by Justice Stephen G. Breyer, the high court ruled that a prisoner’s habeas petition filed under 28 U.S.C. 2255 cannot be rejected as an unauthorized second successive petition, if the prior petition was so denominated by the court-not the prisoner-without an express warning from the court to the prisoner of the consequences of such a designation. Castro v. U.S., No. 02-6683. Convicted on federal drug charges, Hernan Castro in 1994 petitioned for a new trial. The trial court deemed his petition to be a habeas petition filed under � 2255 and denied it. Castro did not appeal. But four years later, he expressly filed a � 2255 motion raising a new claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. That motion was denied on the ground that Castro had not obtained the court’s permission to file what it deemed to be a second successive � 2255 application. The high court’s opinion vacated an 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision to uphold the trial court’s ruling. In another 9-0 decision, this one authored by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, the justices reversed a Maryland high court ruling that police lacked probable cause to arrest a front-seat passenger in a car after a search of the vehicle revealed cocaine stashed in the back-seat armrest. Maryland v. Pringle, No. 02-809. Joseph Pringle and two others were stopped by police while riding in a car at 3 a.m. on Aug. 7, 1999. When a search of the vehicle turned up five glassine envelopes of cocaine, all three of the occupants denied ownership of the drug and all were arrested. Pringle later waived his Miranda rights and admitted ownership of the coke. (The others were then freed.) Pringle then challenged the confession as the fruit of an arrest without probable cause. While a trial court and an intermediate appellate court rejected that argument, Maryland’s high court agreed with him. The Supreme Court, however, concluded that it was reasonable for the arresting officer to conclude that any or all of the car’s occupants had knowledge of, and exercised dominion and control over the cocaine, giving rise to probable cause to arrest them. ANTITRUST In F. Hoffmann-LaRoche Ltd. v. Empagran S.A., No. 03-724, the justices agreed to hear arguments over whether foreign drug companies can bring a claim against domestic drug companies for alleged antitrust violations by conspiring to fix worldwide vitamin prices. The D.C. Circuit ruled that the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act allows such suits where the alleged anti-competitive conduct has the requisite harm on U.S. commerce, and found the foreign companies had alleged such conduct. GOVERNMENT The court will also consider whether an executive agency can ignore federal law when implementing administrative rules necessary to carry out a presidential foreign-affairs action. U.S. Dep’t of Transp. v. Public Citizen, No. 03-358. At issue are three regulations proposed for allowing Mexican trucks to cross into the U.S. under the North American Free Trade Agreement. The U.S. Department of Transportation conducted environmental impact studies on two of the regulations but not on the third. Public Citizen argued, and the 9th Circuit agreed, that the Clean Air Act and the National Environmental Policy Act required that all three be completed.

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