End of April, End of Arguments

SCOTUS hears their final arguments of the term this week. Let’s take a quick look at the cases.

Arguments Monday

McWilliams v. Dunn concerns an indigent defendant found to have severe mental disorders. At McWilliams’ trial, the court appointed an expert to evaluate McWilliams’ mental state. However, this occurred only two days before sentencing. Due to this small time window, the defense could not adequately interview the expert. In addition, the defense had almost no time to properly review other medical and psychological records. The defense asserts a violation of McWilliams’ Due Process rights. In addition, Circuit Courts disagree about whether defense must have an independent expert in these kinds of cases, or whether it is sufficient to have a court-appointed expert who reports to all parties.

Davila v. Davis is another ineffective assistance of counsel claim. Davila was convicted of murder and sought multiple appeals, including habeas relief. Davila’s appeals relief efforts have so far failed. He has repeatedly asserted claims of ineffective assistance of counsel at multiple points in his trial and appeals process. The question before the Supreme Court, however, is narrower. According to precedent, a procedural default on ineffective assistance of trial counsel can be overcome in a filing of ineffective state habeas counsel. The Supreme Court must decide if this rule also applies to a claim of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel.

Arguments Tuesday

Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California is up first on Tuesday. Several hundred people filed complaints over Plavix, a drug manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squibb. The plaintiffs filed eight separate complaints in the San Francisco Superior Court. Bristol-Myers Squibb is not headquartered in California, however. In addition to this, many of the plaintiffs in the original case are also not residents of California. The Supreme Court of California ruled that the facts of the case were sufficient to give jurisdiction to the nonresident plaintiffs. This case now heads to the Supreme Court. SCOTUS will decide if this jurisdiction is valid, or if the nonresident plaintiffs improvidently filed their claims in California.

BNSF Railway Co. v. Tyrrell concerns the proper forum state for a case. BNSF has no home ties to Montana, the original forum for this case. Previous precedent holds that the Due Process Clause forbids a state court from exercising personal jurisdiction against defendants that are not “at home”. This precedent – in Daimler AG v. Bauman – concerns a foreign party and overseas injuries. The question before the Supreme Court is whether the holding in Daimler controls for a case where both parties are American, and where the federal cause of action is also different.

Arguments Wednesday

– In Amgen v. Sandoz and Sandoz v. Amgen, both parties filed suit against the other. The original filing was over patent litigation, and was reviewed by the Federal Circuit. Sandoz Inc. patented a biological product that was bio-similar to a product produced by Amgen Inc. Bio-similar patents and reference patents both have regulatory pathways under the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009 (BPCIA). Under this law, the company with the bio-similar product (the “Applicant”) is required to show a copy of the license application to the company with the reference product (the “Sponsor”) within 20 days of FDA acceptance. Sandoz informed Amgen of their patent application but did not disclose important details of their application. There are several questions in this case. The district court and the Federal Circuit disagree on whether Sandoz could give Amgen notice of marketing for its product before it received FDA approval. Another question tied to this disagreement is whether Sandoz waited long enough to sell its new product. Under the BPCIA, Sandoz should have waited to sell its product until 180 days after FDA approval. Instead, Sandoz waited 180 days after only receiving notice that their application was under review, not that the product had been approved. This would trigger a violation of the Act. The Supreme Court will also have to decide whether the Act permits Amgen any remedy for a patent infringement claim.

– Later on Wednesday, The Court will hear arguments in Maslenjak v. United States. Maslenjak became a refugee in the United States in the late ’90s, in the aftermath of the dissolution of Yugoslavia. She eventually became a naturalized U.S. citizen. Years later, it was discovered that Maslenjak lied in statements made during her naturalization process. This led to criminal proceedings. Maslenjak’s citizenship was revoked, and she was deported. The 6th Circuit Court affirmed her conviction and the stripping of her citizenship rights. However, the 6th Circuit ruling is in direct opposition to rulings from the 1st, 4th, 7th, and 9th Circuits. SCOTUS will hear arguments, and decide whether the nature of Maslenjak’s false statements requires loss of citizenship and deportation.


The argument season is almost over, but many more opinions will be released over the next few months. Keep track with us over at FantasySCOTUS. Be sure also to follow @LexPredict and {Marshall}+ on Twitter.