US Supreme Court issues 3 opinions

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Via Scotusblog:

In Johnson v. United States, the Court rules 7-2 that a "violent felony" under federal law requires the use of physical violence, thereby reversing and remanding the lower court.  Justice Scalia writes for the majority, while Justice Alito dissents, joined by Justice Thomas.  The full opinion in pdf format is here.

The case concerns a sentencing enhancement under the Armed Career Criminal Act, which authorizes an enhanced penalty for a person who violates 18 USC 922(g) and has three previous convictions for "a violent felony."  The government claimed that the defendant's misdemeanor conviction for simply battery qualified under the statute because the defendant had previously been convicted of another battery, so this misdemeanor offense was a felony under Florida law.  Florida defined battery as occuring when a person either "actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against his will" or "intentionally causes bodily harm to another person."  The Court found there was nothing in the record permitting the trial court to find that the defendant's conviction rested upon "striking" or "intentionally causing bodily harm" elements of the offense.  The language of the statute that permitted a conviction for "actually and intentionally touching" another, does not constitute the use of "physical force" under 18 USC 924(e)(1).  The interpretation of "physical force" is a matter of federal law, not state law, so it does not matter that the Florida Supreme Court has found that a battery is a violent offense.  The federal statute does not define "force" - the Court finds that it means the application of strength, power and violence.  The force must be capable of causing physical pain or injury to another person.

In Reed Elsevier v. Muchnick, on a 5-3 vote, the Court reverses and remands, ruling that a copyright must be registered before one may file an infringement claim, but the failure of a copyright holder to have a registration does not restrict a federal court's power to decide infringement claims involving works that are not registered.  Justice Thomas delivers the majority opinion; Justice Ginsburg concurs in part and concurs in the judgment, joined by Justices Stevens and Breyer.  Justice Sotomayor took no part in the decision.  The full opinion is here

In Mac's Shell Service, Inc. v. Shell Oil Products Company; Shell Oil Products Company v. Mac's Shell Service, the Court reverses in part, limiting the right of the holder of a franchise to sue after the franchise agreement is terminated.  Justice Alito writes the unanimous opinion of the Court, which is here.


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This page contains a single entry by JoNell published on March 2, 2010 8:12 AM.

The Special Sessions and the Courts was the previous entry in this blog.

Nevada Supreme Court reverses 3 convictions in unpublished orders is the next entry in this blog.

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