Highlights of Important Supreme Court Cases For Fall Term

This week, the United States Supreme Court announced which cases it will be considering in the upcoming Fall Term. In the backdrop of this announcement is the fact that a new Justice, Judge Sotomayor, will be taking her seat, and speculation that Justice John Paul Stevens could be retiring at any time. We first posted a post discussing the speculation surrounding his retirement on September 2, 2009. To read that post click hereThe addition of Sotomayor is not expected to change the philosophical balance on the court.  But the expectations for this term surround the cases that the Supreme Court has agreed to decide. Below you will find a brief synopsis of the interesting cases the Supreme Court has agreed to consider.

Guns and the Second Amendment: This case promises to get the greatest attention. On Wednesday the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case involving a challenge to Chicago’s ban on handguns. Last year the Supreme Court overturned Washington D.C.’s ban on handguns. Chicago has a similar ban and is arguing that the decision overturning the Washington D.C. ban on handguns does not apply to state and local governments because Washington D.C. is governed by federal law. The Court of Appeals agreed with Chicago and the Supreme Court will now take up the issue. How the Supreme Court decides this case will have a tremendous impact on handgun bans throughout the country.

The case is McDonald v. Chicago, 08-0521.

Right to a Lawyer, Miranda Related Decision: How long is a suspects request for a lawyer valid? In 2003, Michael Shatzer was questioned for the sexual abuse of a boy. The case was dropped after Shatzer demanded an attorney. Three years later, after the boy was older and able to recount more details to a new detective assigned to the case, he was questioned and confessed to the crime. He was convicted by the trial court but the Maryland Court of Appeals overturned the conviction because he had requested an attorney in 2003. The United States Supreme Court will decide how long the request for a lawyer will last.

The case is Maryland v. Shatzer, 08-680.

Life without Parole for Juveniles: The court will decide whether a sentence for life without the possibility of parole violates the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. The case comes out of Florida where 2 juveniles, 13 and 17 years old, were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Neither juvenile was convicted of a crime involving murder. We first posted a post about this case on May 10, 2009. Click here to read that post. On May 16, 2009 we posted another blog about a decision out of California holding that sentencing juveniles to life in prison was unconstitutional.  To read that post click here.

We will update our readers on any other cases which may be added to the docket along the way.

James Dimeas is an award winning criminal defense attorney and author with more than 24 years of experience aggressively representing his clients in criminal cases.  If you have a criminal case in Illinois, contact me in Chicago (312-229-5500), DuPage and Kane (630-504-2096) or Lake (847-696-6458) for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal options.