The Week Ahead in the Supreme Court–October 10, 2016

The Court will hear arguments in three cases during week two of the October 2016 Term.

The Court is not sitting on Monday due to Columbus Day, nor is it sitting on Wednesday, because of Yom Kipur. But it is hearing three cases on Tuesday. First, the Court will hear Samsung Electronics v. Apple, a case in which it will decide whether to uphold part of a verdict ordering Samsung to pay Apple $399 million in damages for infringing on Apple’s iPhone design. At issue is whether, where a design patent is applied to only a component of a product, an award of an infringer’s profits should be limited to those profits attributable to the component. This case involves no copyright or trademark held by Apple, but a “design patent” granted under a statute that the Court has not considered in more than 50 years. The two tech giants are no strangers in court; Apple won against Samsung in the Federal Circuit last week. Bloomberg reports these cases are a “global legal battle between the world’s biggest makers of smartphones that began in April 2011 and at one point spanned four continents.” Read more about the tech feud in front of the Court from CNET.

In Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado the Court must decide whether a no-impeachment rule may constitutionally bar evidence of racial bias offered to prove a violation of the Sixth Amendment’s right to an impartial jury. Pena-Rodriguez was accused and convicted of harassment and sexual assault in Colorado. The state has a no-impeachment rule: a rule that prohibits jurors from testifying about “any matter or statement occurring during the course of the jury’s deliberations.” Two jurors told Pena-Rodriguez’s attorneys after the trial that one juror expressed bias against Mexicans in the jury room. The trial court agreed that that juror had expressed bias, but refused to order a new trial because of Colorado’s no-impeachment rule. The New York Times reports Supreme Court of Colorado’s decision stemmed from its belief that “protecting the secrecy of jury deliberations is of paramount importance in our justice system.” CNN previews the case and notes that in her opinion for a unanimous Court in the 2014 case of Warger v. Shauers, Justice “Sotomayor implicitly recognized [that] not all jury bias is cut from the same cloth.”

Finally, in Manrique v. United States, the Court will decide whether a notice of appeal from a sentencing judgment deferring restitution is effective to challenge the validity of a restitution award that was issued later. Marcelo Manrique pled guilty to one count of possession of child pornogrophy and was sentenced to 72 months’ imprisonment. His sentence included a life term of supervised release; and deferred restitution – recorded as $0 in the initial judgment, but determined after a hearing to be $4,500. Manrique filed a notice of appeal from the initial sentencing judgment. The lower court ruled that because he did not file a notice of appeal from the amended post-hearing judgment, the appeals court did not have jurisdiction to consider a challenge to the appropriateness of the restitution award. Manrique asked the Supreme Court to review the lower court’s decision. Steve Vladeck previews the case on SCOTUSblog; Supreme Court Review breaks down the complicated question presented as well as details about the argument.

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