At its May 24, 2012 Conference, the Court will consider such issues as whether police use of a Taser constitutes excessive force, the evidentiary standard to overcome the presumption of patent validity, and becoming a “fugitive” by challenging, instead of reporting for, deportation.  This edition of “Petitions to watch” features petitions raising issues that Tom has determined to have a reasonable chance of being granted, although we post them here without consideration of whether they present appropriate vehicles in which to decide those issues.

Daman v. Brooks

Docket: 11-898
Issue(s): (1) Whether – when officers applied a Taser to the plaintiff, who was under arrest and resisting officers’ efforts to remove her from her car – the Ninth Circuit erred in finding the Taser use unconstitutional where (a) it was the least risky pain compliance option available, and (b) the decision is in conflict with Graham v. Connor’s holding that an arrest necessarily carries with it the authority to use some degree of force; (2) whether the Ninth Circuit erred in holding that the plaintiff stated a Fourth Amendment excessive force claim despite declaring that the record was insufficient to assess the level of force presented by the drive-stun Taser, particularly where the court failed to address whether any less-risky alternatives were available to the officers; (3) whether the Ninth Circuit should have found the use of the Taser constitutional as a matter of law where the officers chose the least risky force option, the result reached by the original Ninth Circuit panel; and (4) whether the Ninth Circuit’s opinion conflicts with other circuits’ decisions on Taser pain compliance applications in similar circumstances.

Certiorari stage documents:

Brooks v. Daman

Docket: 11-1045
Issue(s): Whether any reasonable official would have understood that it was excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment for police officers to deploy a Taser, three times over the course of less than one minute, against a woman who was seven months pregnant, simply because the woman refused to exit her vehicle during a routine traffic stop?

Certiorari stage documents:

Agarano v. Mattos

Docket: 11-1032
Issue(s): Whether the officers’ use of a Taser on Jayzel Mattos was excessive force under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?

Certiorari stage documents:

Mattos v. Agarano

Docket: 11-1165
Issue(s): (1) Whether a reasonable official would have understood that it was excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment for a police officer to rush into a situation with other officers present and deploy a Taser against a suspect in her own home who was not a potential threat to the officers or the public, who was not actively resisting arrest, and was simply attempting to calm a heated situation and comply with another officer’s instructions to speak outside of her house; and (2) whether summary judgment was properly denied in an excessive force case where genuine issues of disputed fact existed as to whether the use of the Taser on Jayzel Mattos was reasonable.

Certiorari stage documents:

Marx v. General Revenue Corp. (Granted )

Docket: 11-1175
Issue(s): Whether a prevailing defendant in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) case may be awarded costs for a lawsuit that was not “brought in bad faith and for the purpose of harassment,” when the FDCPA provides that “[o]n a finding by the court that an action under this section was brought in bad faith and for the purpose of harassment, the court may award to the defendant attorney’s fees reasonable in relation to the work expended and costs” and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d) provides that “[u]nless a federal statute, these rules, or a court order provides otherwise, costs -- other than attorney’s fees -- should be allowed to the prevailing party.”

Certiorari stage documents:

Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc. v. Minnesota

Docket: 11-1074
Issue(s): Whether a state may, consistent with the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, retroactively revive liabilities that have been long-extinguished under a statute of repose.

Certiorari stage documents:

Bright v. Holder

Docket: 11-890
Issue(s): (1) Whether a noncitizen who fails to respond to an agency order to report for removal is a “fugitive” for purposes of applying the “fugitive disentitlement” doctrine where the petitioner has not absconded and his address is known to the court and the government; (2) whether a petitioner is a “fugitive” for purposes of applying the “fugitive disentitlement” doctrine even if he has been detained and is in government custody; and (3) whether the doctrine is a per se jurisdictional bar to appellate review, or merely authorizes a court to exercise its discretion and weigh the equities in a particular case.

Certiorari stage documents:

Saint-Gobain Ceramics & Plastics, Inc. v. Siemens Medical Solutions USA, Inc.

Docket: 11-301
Issue(s): (1) Whether the Patent and Trademark Office’s (“PTO”) presumptively valid finding that an invention is not obvious and is thus patentable over a prior art patent is impermissibly nullified or undermined when a jury is allowed to find, by a mere preponderance of the evidence, that the patented invention is “insubstantially different” from the very same prior art patent, and thus infringes that prior art patent under the “doctrine of equivalents”; and (2) whether, as the dissent below warned, the Federal Circuit’s failure to impose a heightened evidentiary standard to ensure that juries do not use the doctrine of equivalents to override the PTO’s presumptively valid non-obvious determinations undermines the reasonable reliance of competitors and investors on such PTO determinations, thereby intolerably increasing uncertainty over claim scope, fostering litigation, “deter[ring] innovation and hamper[ing] legitimate competition.” Dyk, J., dissenting from the denial of rehearing en banc.

Certiorari stage documents:

CVSG Information:


The following petitions have been re-listed for the conference of May 24.  If any other paid petitions are redistributed for this conference, we will add them below as soon as their redistribution is noted on the docket.

Coleman v. Johnson (Granted )

Docket: 11-1053
Issue(s): (1) Whether the court of appeals’ grant of habeas relief based on a finding that the Pennsylvania courts misapplied Pennsylvania law should be reversed given that it conflicts with this Court’s holdings that it is not the province of a federal habeas court to examine state court application of state law and that only noncompliance with clearly-established federal law will render a state’s criminal judgment susceptible to collateral attack in federal court; (2) whether the court of appeals’ refusal to credit factual inferences favorable to the prosecution in connection with its Jackson v. Virginia analysis due to its subjective view that those inferences do not “more likely than not flow from” the trial evidence should be reversed given that it conflicts with this Court's holdings that a federal habeas court conducting a Jackson review must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, presume that the jury resolved any conflicting factual inferences in favor of the prosecution, and defer to that resolution; (3) whether the court of appeals’ determination, which patently relies upon its own subjective conclusions regarding witness credibility and the proper weight to be accorded the record evidence, should be reversed given that it contravenes this Court’s repeated admonitions that a federal habeas court conducting a Jackson review is strictly forbidden from substituting its judgment for that of the jury on weight and credibility issues; (4) whether the court of appeals’ determination, which relies upon a definition of accomplice liability that conflicts with Pennsylvania law, should be reversed given this Court’s holdings that a federal habeas court engaged in a Jackson analysis must apply the substantive elements of the criminal offense as defined by state law; and (5) whether the court of appeals’ de facto finding that the state courts’ conviction was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented should be reversed given that it fails to acknowledge or address the presumption of correctness that must be afforded the factual inferences drawn by the state courts pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(l) and therefore conflicts with this Court’s holdings that the presumption of correctness afforded state court factual findings cannot be overridden absent clear and convincing contrary evidence.

Certiorari stage documents:

Howes v. Walker (Granted )

Docket: 11-1011
Issue(s): (1) Whether 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2)’s invitation to decide the reasonableness of a state-court factual determination fits with 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1)’s command that an underlying state-court fact determination must be presumed correct; (2) whether the Sixth Circuit violated Section 2254(d)(1) of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) by granting habeas relief on a purportedly unreasonable application of state law; and (3) whether the Sixth Circuit violated AEDPA § 2254(d)(1) by asserting its own prejudice standard – that a defendant “must only show that he had a substantial defense” – rather than this Court’s clearly established law as set forth in Strickland v. Washington, that prejudice requires a showing that, but for counsel’s error, there is a reasonable probability of a different outcome.

Certiorari stage documents:


Posted in Cases in the Pipeline

Recommended Citation: Matthew Bush, Petitions to watch | Conference of May 24, 2012, SCOTUSblog (May. 21, 2012, 5:15 PM),