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  1. #91
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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Quote Originally Posted by Moose View Post
    From everything I have heard about the Wal-Mart case, there does not seem to be much of a dispute that the original 6 plaintiffs have a legitimate cause of action. The only question before the Court seems to be whether those 6 (and their attorneys, who are looking at a monster windfall if they get the class certified) can represent a class of over 1.5 million females.

    The key for the class action is common facts and common issues of law. And I think they have a hard time with the common facts portion, particularly on something as subjective as whether "Candidate A" deserved a promotion over "Candidate B" in a potential million cases.

    If the issue was pay alone, it might be easier to certify the class. You should be able to document pay differences for the same job fairly easily. But I do not think there is any way you can make that work on the promotion issue.
    I agree. Grounds for promotions are subjective. It's not as cut and dry as "this title receives a base salary of..."

    This is really an interesting case. If I had to make a guess I would guess that this court overturns the lower courts and strikes down the class-action.
    Oh Grigor. You silly man.

  2. #92
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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Supreme Court rejects damages for innocent man who spent 14 years on death row

    In a 5-4 ruling, justices overturn a jury verdict awarding $14 million to John Thompson, who had sued then-New Orleans Dist. Atty. Harry Connick Sr. because prosecutors hid a blood test that would have proved his innocence in a murder case.


    By David G. Savage, Washington Bureau
    March 30, 2011



    A bitterly divided Supreme Court on Tuesday tossed out a jury verdict won by a New Orleans man who spent 14 years on death row and came within weeks of execution because prosecutors had hidden a blood test and other evidence that would have proven his innocence.

    The 5-4 decision delivered by Justice Clarence Thomas shielded the New Orleans district attorney's office from being held liable for the mistakes of its prosecutors. The evidence of their misconduct did not prove "deliberate indifference" on the part of then-Dist. Atty. Harry Connick Sr., Thomas said.

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg emphasized her disapproval by reading her dissent in the courtroom, saying the court was shielding a city and its prosecutors from "flagrant" misconduct that nearly cost an innocent man his life.

    "John Thompson spent 14 years isolated on death row before the truth came to light," she said. He was innocent of the crimes that sent him to prison and prosecutors had "dishonored" their obligation to present the true facts to the jury, she said.

    In the past, the high court has absolved trial prosecutors from any and all liability for the cases they bring to court. The key issue in the case of Connick vs. John Thompson was whether the district attorney could be held liable for a pattern of wrongdoing in his office and for his failure to see to it that his prosecutors followed the law.

    In 1999, when all his appeals had failed on his conviction for the murder of a hotel executive, Thompson was scheduled to be put to death. But a private investigator hired by his lawyer found a blood test in the police lab that showed the man wanted for a related carjacking had type B blood, while Thompson's was type O.

    Thompson had been charged with and convicted of an attempted carjacking near the Superdome as a prelude to charging him with the unsolved murder of a hotel executive.

    The newly revealed blood test spared Thompson's life, and a judge ordered a new trial on the murder charge that had sent him to death row. His new defense lawyers found other evidence that had been hidden, including eyewitnesses reports. Bystanders reported seeing a man who was 6 feet tall with close-cropped hair running away holding a gun. Thompson was 5 feet 8 and had a bushy Afro.

    With the new eyewitness reports and other evidence that pointed to another man as the killer, Thompson was quickly acquitted of all the charges in a second trial. He won $14 million in damages in a civil suit against the district attorney.

    In rejecting the judgment, Justice Thomas described the case as a "single incident" in which mistakes were made. He said Thompson did not prove a pattern of similar violations that would justify holding the city's government liable for the wrongdoing. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy and Samuel A. Alito Jr. joined to form the majority.

    However, Thompson's lawyers showed that at least four prosecutors knew about the hidden blood test. They also showed evidence of other, similar cases in New Orleans in which key evidence was concealed from defense lawyers.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationwo...,1730487.story

    (Just a human interest FYI - the DA Connick Sr. is singer Harry Connick Jr.'s father).
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  3. #93

    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    I don't have the case in front of me, of course, but I'd like to know why Kennedy ruled with the majority on this matter.


  4. #94
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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Quote Originally Posted by craighickman View Post
    I don't have the case in front of me, of course, but I'd like to know why Kennedy ruled with the majority on this matter.
    Typically, Craig, you will never get a specific answer to that question, unless the justice 1) had given some specific insight to his thinking with questions at oral arguments (which is a very difficult way to figure out their reasoning), or 2) they write a separate concurring opinion, which spells out their reasoning.

    Here, Kennedy merely signed on to Thomas' majority opinion. Scalia filed a concurrence, with which Alito joined. And Ginsburg wrote the dissent, in which she was joined by Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagen

    Here's the opinion:
    http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/09-571.pdf
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  5. #95
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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Sounds pretty deliberate to me.

  6. #96
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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    How is the hiding of evidence a mistake?
    Oh Grigor. You silly man.

  7. #97

    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    In rejecting the judgment, Justice Thomas described the case as a "single incident" in which mistakes were made. He said Thompson did not prove a pattern of similar violations that would justify holding the city's government liable for the wrongdoing.
    Then who is liable? I'm not a lawyer but Thompson couldn't and shouldn't have had to prove a pattern. He should only have had to prove that in HIS case there was wrongdoing. That seems to have been done. I get the feeling if the case had been argued on a broader scale (showing a pattern) the Gang of Five would've said that Thompson's lawyers had over reached.

    The Five were never going to find in Thompson's favor.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  8. #98
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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    In rejecting the judgment, Justice Thomas described the case as a "single incident" in which mistakes were made. He said Thompson did not prove a pattern of similar violations that would justify holding the city's government liable for the wrongdoing.
    Then who is liable? I'm not a lawyer but Thompson couldn't and shouldn't have had to prove a pattern. He should only have had to prove that in HIS case there was wrongdoing. That seems to have been done. I get the feeling if the case had been argued on a broader scale (showing a pattern) the Gang of Five would've said that Thompson's lawyers had over reached.

    The Five were never going to find in Thompson's favor.
    Exactly! Using Justice Thomas' argument, I can break into a customer's storage unit and steal their stuff, as long as I only do it once and don't create a pattern of thievery.
    Oh Grigor. You silly man.

  9. #99

    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Quote Originally Posted by Kirkus View Post
    Exactly! Using Justice Thomas' argument, I can break into a customer's storage unit and steal their stuff, as long as I only do it once and don't create a pattern of thievery.
    Yep.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  10. #100
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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    If I remember it correctly, the standard in civil rights cases (they are called 1983 actions under Federal Law) forces you to establish a pattern of government misconduct. 1 incident won't win the case for you, unless that 1 incident is considered so egregious as to constitute deliberate misconduct.

    But you are right, Ti - this court would be highly unlikely, unless its hand was forced (or Kennedy was sold on a particular fact pattern), to find a civil rights violation.
    Last edited by Moose; 03-30-2011 at 06:08 PM.
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  11. #101
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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    On a completely unrelated note, I was watching CNN last night at the gym, where a commentator was discussing the oral argument of the WalMart case, and then the Roberts Court in general. In her discussion, she called the current 5-4 make up "shaky" (as in the coalition being shaky). I laughed at the comment, because it seems to me that this is a rather solid 5-4. When Kennedy is your potential left swing vote, there is really not a lot of swing at all. Sandy O made things a lot more shaky when she was the swing.
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  12. #102
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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Really, by her last couple of terms, O'Connor couldn't even be considered a swing vote anymore. I remember the statisticians at the SCOTUS Blog calculated in 2005 that she had moved to the left of Stephen Breyer.

    This also reminds me, Linda Greenhouse published a short article last week analyzing the term so far, and she noted a pretty interesting stat. In divided cases so far this term, Roberts has voted more with Breyer and Sotomayor than any other justices. Probably just a coincidence, but it's interesting nonetheless to consider whether or not we might have another "evolution" in progress.
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  13. #103
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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    An interesting ruling handed down yesterday:


    Tax Credits for religious school scholarships ruled constitutional

    WASHINGTON (CNN) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday tossed out a lawsuit challenging Arizona's tax breaks for voluntary donations benefiting private school scholarships, many of them Christian-based.

    The 13-year-old program provides dollar-for-dollar income tax credits for money given to "school tuition organizations," or STOs.

    The 5-4 ruling split along conservative-liberal lines. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said taxpayers challenging the program lacked "standing" to continue the suit.

    "If an establishment of religion is alleged to cause real injury to particular individuals, the federal courts may adjudicate the matter," Kennedy wrote. "The fact that (those challenging the program) are state taxpayers does not give them standing to challenge the subsidies that (the program) provides to religious STOs."

    ...

    In dissent, Justice Elena Kagan said the majority "betrays" the vision of the nation's founders on the separation of church and state.

    "Today's decisions devastates taxpayer standing in Establishment Clause cases," she wrote. "The court's opinion thus offers a roadmap - more truly, a one-step instruction - to any government that wishes to to insulate its financing of religious activity from legal challenges. ... However blatantly the government may violate the Establishment Clause, taxpayers cannot gain access to the federal courts."
    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/0...onstitutional/

    If you follow oral arguments at all, this one made some waves. Kennedy seemed on board with the conservative POV from the beginning, but his interest was clearly piqued when Kagan made the argument that, if tax payers did not have standing to bring this case to the federal courts (the argument of the Solicitor General, which Kennedy has now made law with his opinion), then it negates a slew of past rulings. At the time, Kennedy seemed to agree with this line of argument, and the speculation was that it might be an early display of Kagan's lauded quickness of mind and ability to sway opinions.

    So much for that.
    Blue Steel

  14. #104
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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Supreme Court rules for Wal-Mart in massive job discrimination lawsuit


    The Supreme Court put the brakes on a massive job discrimination lawsuit against mega-retailer Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., saying sweeping class-action status that could potentially involve hundreds of thousands of current and former female workers was simply too large.

    The ruling Monday was a big victory for the nation's largest private employer, and the business community at large.

    The high-profile case– perhaps the most closely watched of the high court's term– is among the most important dealing with corporate versus worker rights that the justices have ever heard, and could eventually impact nearly every private employer, large and small.

    Gisel Ruiz, Executive Vice President for Wal-Mart U.S., said in a statement the company was "pleased" with the court's ruling.

    "Walmart has had strong policies against discrimination for many years. The Court today unanimously rejected class certification and, as the majority made clear, the plaintiffs’ claims were worlds away from showing a companywide discriminatory pay and promotion policy," the statement said. "By reversing the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision, the majority effectively ends this class action lawsuit.

    “Walmart has a long history of providing advancement opportunities for our female associates and will continue its efforts to build a robust pipeline of future female leaders.”

    The case is Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes (10-277).


    http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/06/20...ation-lawsuit/
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  15. #105
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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Quote Originally Posted by Moose View Post
    Supreme Court rules for Wal-Mart in massive job discrimination lawsuit
    Interesting decision - the Court ruled 9-0 that the plaintiffs could not proceed with the class action, though this part of the ruling was based on Federal class action law and procedure. In a more narrow 5-4 (surprise!) holding, the conservative wing of the Court held (in a majority opinion written by Antonin) that the plaintiffs could not show "questions of law or fact common to the entire class" (which is pretty much what we discussed up thread).

    The full opinion can be read at http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/10-277.pdf
    Last edited by Moose; 06-20-2011 at 11:45 AM.
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