Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I Want To Be Like Conrad and Other News Trends

News trends from around the circuits:

I Want To Be Like Conrad
The Supreme Court held in June that the honest services fraud law, previously a flexible tool for prosecutors, applies only to bribes and kickbacks.  Not surprisingly, persons convicted under that law are requesting review of their cases and the appellate courts are involved.  As widely publicized, the Seventh Circuit approved the release, on bail and pending appeal, of Conrad Black, one of the named Supreme Court parties.  Defendants in other circuits are also seeking to benefit: First, Third-1, Third-2, Sixth, Eleventh, and more to come.

The Ballot Box
In this election year, the courts of appeals have recently ruled on election issues.  In the past several weeks, the Second and Eleventh Circuits struck down parts of state campaign finance laws and the Sixth and Eighth Circuits rejected state provisions that previously prevented candidate-judges from direct fundraising, as well as other activities.

Boom, Boom, Boom
No discussion of recent news would be complete without mentioning the district court rulings on same-sex marriage, immigration, and healthcare—remarkable in their significance (deeply held views on both sides) and proximity in time (boom, boom, boom comes to mind).  The Ninth Circuit already has the first two on its docket and all are expected to reach the Supreme Court, as widely followed appeals.  In particular, a same-sex marriage ruling by the Court, no matter the result, will be among the most controversial ever, akin to Roe v. Wade.

For other news, see Short Circuits, a weekly feature that gathers articles about the federal appellate courts.