Supreme Court Review-Preview-Overview

An up-to-date outline of Supreme Court criminal cases
is available here. It covers pending cert grants and decisions from the past and current Terms. Other "cites" of interest are available here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Untimely State Petition Doesn't Toll AEDPA Limitations Period

In Pace v. DiGuglielmo, No. 03-9627 (April 27, 2005), the Supreme Court held that a state post-conviction motion is not "properly filed," within the meaning of the tolling provision of the AEDPA’s statute of limitations, when that motion was denied by the state courts for being untimely under state law. The Court distinguished Artuz v. Bennett, 531 U.S. 4 (2000), which found that a state petition was "properly filed." The Court pointed out that Artuz involved a state dismissal for procedural default, not, with Pace, a state dismissal for untimeliness. A petition dismissed as untimely cannot be considered "properly filed," the Court concluded.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Wire Fraud Based on Scheme to Defraud Foreign Government of Taxes

In Pasquantino v. U.S., No. 03-725 (April 26, 2005), the Court held that a plot to defraud the Canadian government of tax revenue violates the federal wire fraud statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1343. The plot involved the smuggling of large quantities of liquor from the United States to evade Canada's heavy alcohol import taxes. The Court found that Canada's right to uncollected excise taxes on liquor is "property" within the wire fraud statute's meaning. Further, the Court found that its construction of § 1343 did not derogate from the common law revenue rule, which prohibits one sovereign from enforcing its tax liabilities in the courts of another sovereign. The Court noted that this criminal prosecution did not have as its purpose the collection of revenues. Further, the prosecution was not the "indirect" enforcement of tax liability collection, and, based on the then-existing caselaw, would not have been regarded as such by the 1952 Congress which enacted the wire fraud statute. In addition, the prosecution poses little risk of the principal evil against which the revenue rule protects: judicial evaluation of the revenue policies of foreign sovereigns. The prosecution was brought by the Executive Branch of the United States government, which is entrusted with primary responsibility for foreign relations. Further, even though part of the criminal judgment involved restitution of the unpaid taxes, this restitution did not matter, as the government had an independent interest in criminal prosecution. The Court also rejected the argument based on the principle of avoiding giving statutes extraterritorial effects, pointing out that the criminal scheme was complete when the scheme was executed in the United States.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Foreign Conviction Not a 922(g)(1) Predicate Conviction

In Small v. U.S., No. 03-750 (April 16, 2005), the Court held that the phrase "convicted in any court" contained in the prohibition in 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) on firearm possession by any person convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment exceeding one year encompassed only domestic, not foreign, convictions.The Court noted that it is appropriate to assume that Congress has domestic, not foreign, concerns in mind when it writes criminal statutes. Further, foreign convictions can involve conduct that is not criminal under Amercan laws. The Court pointed out that in view of the language creating exceptions to the firearm possession prohibition, reading the statute to include foreign convictions could create "anomalies," where a foreign conviction, for example for antitrust violations, would count whereas a domestic one would not. The Court recognized that the broad purpose of the statute of protecting public safety by keeping guns out of the hands of those likely to create a threat would support a broad reading of the law. But it concluded that Congress paid no attention to foreign convictions.