Retired Pennsylvania State University chemistry professor was indicted for jury tampering for passing out leaflets on the courthouse steps urging prospective jurors to do precisely that. As this New York Times article points out, this case will test the limits of the First Amendment. get
The United States Supreme Court has granted certiorari to hear two Michigan habeas corpus cases. In Berghuis v. Smith, the Sixth Circuit ruled that the Michigan Supreme Court acted contrary to clearly established United States Supreme Court law when it rejected a Sixth Amendment challenged the racial composition of Mr. Smith’s jury. The Sixth Circuit held that the jury did not reperesente a fair cross-section utilizing the comparative disparity test for evaluating the difference between the number of African-Americans in the community versus in the the jury selection panel. The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear whether this ruling is erroneous. Berghuis v Smith, Supreme Court No. 08-1402. The case is currently scheduled for oral arguments on January 20, 2010.
In Berghuis v Thompkins, the Court has granted certiorari to determine whether the Sixth Circuit improperly expanded MIranda to prevent an officer from trying to persuade a defendant to cooperate where the officer tried to persuade the defendant to cooperate. The Defendant had been read his MIranda rights and had neither invoked them nor waived them. An ineffective assistance of counsel issue was also presented in the State’s petition for certiorari, but does not appear to be part of the order granting certiorari. An oral argument does not appear to be set in this case. Since cert was granted on the same day as Berghuis v Smith, orals will probably be in late January or early February.
In 1972, the United States Supreme Court stated that twelve person juries in state criminal trials could reach a non-unanimous vote, (e.g. 10-2 for conviction or acquittal). In Bowen v Oregon, the Petitioner is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider its prior ruling based on later court decisions holding the Sixth Amendment in line with the original purpose. Mr. Bowen has enlisted some powerful allies and the New York Times thinks Mr. Bowen has a chance. Stay tuned!