SCOTUSblog notes several pending petitions of interest, perhaps even to the MJ community.
They begin comment on Deveraux v. Montana with
The Supreme Court has ruled that the seating of a biased juror can violate the constitutional right to an impartial jury. It has stopped short, however, of holding that the violation is so stark as to constitute a “structural error” requiring automatic reversal under the Sixth Amendment, and state courts are divided over whether it rises to that level. This week, we highlight cert petitions that ask the court to consider, among other things, whether the seating of a biased juror is the type of error that always requires a new trial.
The actual issue presented is
Whether a trial court commits structural error, requiring automatic reversal under the Sixth Amendment, when it seats a biased juror after erroneously denying a for-cause challenge to that juror.
In Moore v. Texas, from the petition:
A Texas statute criminalizes sending repeated electronic communications with the intent and likely result of “harassing, annoying, alarming, abusing, tormenting, embarrassing or offending” another. Because the law would be violated by the repeated sending of communications that contain no expressive content, like a blank email, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals concluded that it “proscribes non-speech conduct” and does not implicate the First Amendment, even though the law would in most cases be violated by the repeated sending of expressive communications. The court thus rejected Petitioners’ facial overbreadth challenges to the criminal statute. The questions presented are:
1. Is a law that criminalizes expressive speech immunized from any First Amendment scrutiny if it also criminalizes non-expressive conduct?
2. Is a law that punishes the repeated sending of electronic communications with intent and likely result to “harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend” another unconstitutionally overbroad?
The court has relisted Counterman v. Colorado. Here is SCOTUSblog's (edited) comment.
It is well known that the First Amendment does not protect speech that constitutes a “true threat.” But the court has never said all that clearly what a “true threat” is. The closest the court has come is Virginia v. Black, where the court wrote that true threats “encompass those statements where the speaker means to communicate a serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence.” The court granted review in Elonis v. United States to resolve an acknowledged circuit split “on the question whether proof of a true threat requires proof of a subjective intent to threaten,” or whether it is enough that an “objectively reasonable person would view [the] message as [a] serious expression of intent to harm.”
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