Three Supreme Court Criminal Cases to Watch

Three Supreme Court Criminal Cases to WatchThe first Monday in October has come and gone, which means the Supreme Court is once again in session. The Justices do not hear as many cases as they did a few years ago, but the ones they do consider often impact daily life in a big way.

As usual, the Supreme’s docket includes a number of criminal cases. Some of them are basically technical matters, but others merit close attention. These cases could affect the way Weatherford criminal defense attorneys deal with Parker County criminal cases.

Kahler v. Kansas

Since the early 2000s, the insanity defense has been illegal in Kansas. Defense attorneys there may argue that the defendant lacked the required mental state, but according to the statute, “mental disease or defect is not otherwise a defense.

This decision may be important, since the definition of a “mental disease or defect” is much broader than it used to be. If the Court upholds the Kansas law, other jurisdictions, including conservative Texas, might try to restrict their insanity laws as well.

We have been down this road before. In the mid 1980s, after Dallas naitive and would-be presidential assassin John Hinkley successfully pleaded insanity, Congress and many states substantially limited this defense.

Kansas v. Glover

Is it reasonable to suspect that the registered owner of a vehicle is driving it at a given time? A Kansas trial court said that logical leap was too far and suppressed such evidence, and the Supreme Court of Kansas agreed. Now, the Supreme Court of the United States will address this issue.

This question has implications in both criminal and civil court with regard to hit-and-run cases. If the U.S. Supreme Court finds such an assumption is reasonable, these cases will be easier to win for both Parker County prosecutors and Weatherford personal injury attorneys.

Mathena v. Malvo

Some people may remember the D.C. Sniper murders in the early 2000s. John Allen Muhammad used high-powered rifles to kill ten people over a three-week period. He was executed for his crime. Muhammad’s accomplice, John Lee Malvo, was a juvenile at the time. Malvo was convicted and sentenced to LWOP (Life Without Parole).

Several years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that mandatory juvenile LWOP sentences violated the Eighth Amendment, but that discretionary LWOPs were okay. Now, the Court has a chance to clarify the difference. This ruling could lead to a number of resentencing hearings in Parker County and across Texas.

Some pending Supreme Court cases may change the legal landscape. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Weatherford, contact Herreth Law. Home and jail visits are available.