Thursday, December 16, 2010

Noteworthy U.S. Supreme Court Decisions of 2010

Once again, this year, I was mesmerized by the melodic cadence of renowned Professor Erwin Chemerinsky’s lecture discussing the significant U.S. Supreme Court opinions of 2010.  Here is a tongue in cheek recap of some of the more interesting decisions Professor Chemerinsky highlighted.

  • Don’t expect a Fourth Amendment right to privacy when sending text messages with employer-owned equipment to your mistress while on the job.
City of Ontario v. Quon, 560 U.S. ___ (2010).

  • If you want to invoke your right to remain silent, break your silence and say so.
Berguis v. Thompkins, 560 U.S. ___ (2010).

  • Justice Scalia has decided the invocation of the right to counsel while being questioned automatically expires after 14 days.  Thus, the new police interrogation  techniques will be to arrest and Mirandize  a suspect, and if he invokes his right to counsel during questioning, simply wait 14 day periods before interrogating again.
Maryland v. Shatzer, 559 U.S. ___ (2010).

  • Locking up your teenager and throwing away the key for anything less than murder is cruel and unusual punishment.
Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. ___ (2010).

  • Criminal lawyers who want to get their resident alien clients off, advise them to plead guilty and then misadvise them a guilty plea will not result in automatic deportation.
Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. ___ (2010).

  • Corporations are people too; at least when it comes to the First Amendment and spending money in election campaigns.
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. ___ (2010).

Professor Chemerinsky has a unique ability to keep participants attentive with not only his distinctive style of speech, but with his humorous side notes and commentary.  This year I noticed that not only do more questions get asked in Professor Chemerinsky's CLE lectures, but the questions are generally the sort one would have asked in one's Constitutional Law class in law school to impress the professor, i.e., statements of opinion or analysis disguised as questions:  "Well, is it your opinion professor that this case modifies the (insert obscure reference to case law not being discussed) case?"

But, I have to admit, listening to my fellow attendees attempt to impress Professor Chemerinsky is almost as much fun as listening to his lecture.