Current list of cases pending before the courts in which CJLF has filed an amicus curiae brief.
Beylund v. Levi
No. 14-1507
U. S. Supreme Court
U. S. Supreme Court case involving a drunk driver's challenge to North Dakota's implied consent law, which allows the state to suspend the driver's license of any properly arrested intoxicated driving suspect who refuses to submit to a breath test. The case involves the 2013 arrest of Michael Beylund on suspicion of drunk driving. Because Beylund was uncooperative with police and failed to provide an adequate breath sample, he was arrested and taken to a hospital. After he was advised that under the state's implied consent law his refusal to be tested would result in suspension of his driver's license, he agreed to the test. The test showed a blood alcohol level of over three times the legal limit. On appeal, Beylund argued that the state's implied consent law subjected him to an unconstitutional search. After two state courts rejected the claim, the U. S. Supreme Court agreed to consider it. CJLF has joined the case to argue that the challenged law is a reasonable tool used in all 50 states to keep intoxicted drivers off the road, and that the privilege to drive is conditioned upon the licensee's agreement to consent to testing to protect the public from drunk drivers.
Johnson v. Lee
No. 15-789
U. S. Supreme Court
A U. S. Supreme Court case regarding whether a double murderer can reopen challenges to her convictions after they have been properly dismissed by the state courts. On Mother's Day 1995, Donna Lee and Paul Carasi murdered Carasi's mother, Doris Carasi, and Sonia Salinas, who was Carasi's previous girlfriend and the mother of his child. The Clifornia Court of Appeal considered and rejected the claims that Lee raised on appeal. In a second review of the case, called habeas corpus, the state courts properly refused to consider claims that Lee could have raised in the initial appeal, but did not. Nearly all states and the federal courts have similar Procedural default" rules. The U. S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reopened these weak claims, requiring a new round of litigation, by declaring California's rule "inadequate" merely because its courts do not mechanically apply in every instance, but sometimes deny claims on the merits instead. CJLF has filed a brief asking the U. S. Supreme Court to review this decision. In a system of limited resources and long delays, scarce resources should not be spent routinely relitigating defaulted claims in final cases. Such reopening should be limited to cases with strong claims of actual innocence.
Utah v. Strieff
U.S. Supreme Court
A U.S. Supreme Court case considering whether valid evidence of crime obtained in a search incident to a valid arrest must be suppressed because of a good-faith mistake by a police officer making an investigatory stop leading up to the arrest. A narcotics detective conducting surveillance of a suspected drug operation suspected that Strieff was involved and stopped him briefly in a convenience store parking lot. When he learned Strieff's identity and discovered there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest, he arrested Strieff. A legal search incident to arrest discovered evidence of drug dealing. The prosecutor conceded that the evidence the detective had to suspect Strieff before the initial stop was not quite sufficient to meet the required threshold of "reasonable suspicion" for such a stop. The state court of appeals held that the outstanding arrest warrant and the legal arrest on that warrant were intervening factors sufficient to make the evidence admissible. The Utah Supreme Court disagreed and reversed. CJLF has filed a brief asking the Supreme Court to go beyond the narrow question presented and examine the more fundamental question of whether a good-faith mistake by an officer who genuinely and reasonably believed he was making a valid stop should require the drastic remedy of excluding valid evidence of crime.