After observing the Columbus Day holiday yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court is back in action today to hear oral arguments in three cases – including one involving an issue of great interest to trial lawyers and business groups alike: preemption.
This afternoon the Court will hear arguments in Bruesewitz v. Wyeth, which considers whether the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act expressly preempts state tort claims based on injuries suffered as a result of a polio vaccine. The case could have a major impact on hundreds of product liability lawsuits against vaccine makers claiming a causal connection to autism.
But first, the Court will hear two cases that consider just when a convicted criminal defendant can claim ineffective assistance of counsel on appeal.
In Harington v. Richter the Court will decide whether a criminal defendant is denied the effective assistance of counsel when his lawyer chooses methods other than expert testimony to create a reasonable doubt of guilt. And in Premo v. Moore, the Court will decide if an attorney’s failure to suppress a defendant’s alleged coerced confession warrants post-conviction relief.
Meanwhile, in other Supreme Court-related news:
TV talk: While Justice Stephen Breyer believes its important for Americans to see robed Supreme Court Justices at the president’s State of the Union address, he’s not so sure it’s a good idea for cameras to be in the courtroom – in part because it could lead to “television in every criminal trial in the United States and witnesses [becoming] afraid to appear.” (AP)
The popular crowd: The Supreme Court has a 51 percent approval rating – making it far more popular than the president (44 percent) or Congress (18 percent). (Gallup)
The trouble with specialists? While there are more Supreme Court practice specialists than ever, there is a growing tension between that group and the public interest lawyers who sometimes question if clients’ interests are always being put first. (The New York Times).
Supreme fashion police: And here is he obligatory story about Justice Elena Kagan’s decision not to don frilly white neckwear with her black robe, care of The Washington Post‘s Robin Givhan. At least she also scrutinized what the male justices wore in the Court’s official photo session. (Washington Post)