Tag Archive | Elena Kagan

Justice Kagan tells criminal defense bar to go big or go home

By Steve Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

In Luis v. United States, a fractured Supreme Court found that, in a prosecution for Medicare fraud, the federal government could not freeze untainted assets needed to retain defense counsel. The vote alignment was unusual, and none of the four opinions commanded a majority. The opinion drawing the most attention is Justice Kagan’s solo dissent, which Ian Millhiser has called “the most interesting opinion the Court has handed down this year.” That dissent, read together with a prior opinion on pretrial seizures, sends an important message to the criminal defense bar – go big or go home. Read More…

Chief Justice Roberts, Civil Litigator at Heart

By Steve Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

Across the political spectrum of legal blogs, the Supreme Court’s decision in Kaley v. United States has drawn strong criticism, and Chief Justice Roberts’ dissent has drawn strong praise. A sampling of the commentaries appear at the end of this post.

Writing for the 6-to-3 majority, Justice Kagan summarized the Court’s holding as follows:

A federal statute, 21 U. S. C. §853(e), authorizes a court to freeze an indicted defendant’s assets prior to trial if they would be subject to forfeiture upon conviction. In United States v. Monsanto, 491 U. S. 600, 615 (1989), we approved the constitutionality of such an order so long as it is “based on a finding of probable cause to believe that the property will ultimately be proved forfeitable.” And we held that standard to apply even when a defendant seeks to use the disputed property to pay for a lawyer.

In this case, two indicted defendants wishing to hire an attorney challenged a pre-trial restraint on their property. The trial court convened a hearing to consider the seizure’s legality under Monsanto. The question presented is whether criminal defendants are constitutionally entitled at such a hearing to contest a grand jury’s prior determination of probable cause to believe they committed the crimes charged. We hold that they have no right to relitigate that finding.

Chief Justice Roberts, joined by Justices Breyer and Sotomayor, responded: Read More…