I read a blog post today at Simple Justice. Scott Greenfield wrote about whether we put too much into what the Supreme Court rules. Does their rulings affect the criminal defense lawyers in the trenches ? I do agree with his arguments that some in the legal world will analyze a ruling to the last period. An example of this the the famous footnote 9 in the Schmerber case.
Yes, the court’s rulings in the area of criminal defense do matter. A lawyer that keeps up to date can set aside a plea bargain deal when a prior lawyer does not advise a client of immigration consequences. I love the Padilla case . I was able to use that case on a conditional plea bargain in Tennessee. I was able to free a young lady from a detention facility in Louisiana and have her case dismissed . I am hopeful that the court will affirm the McNeeley case on the blood alcohol draws. I have several clients whose blood was taken against their will and will now be used against them to prove their guilt . Maybe the U.S.Supreme Court will hold that the police cannot just take a blood sample without a valid search warrant. I may now be able to attack criminal convictions before the Padilla opinion was issued to young a young man from being deported. Some of these issues are on the court’s docket this fall.
The answer for me is that the Supreme Court is important in my practice. Do I care about all their cases ? No. I could care less on whether someone can sue in the United States on a human rights case that occurred elsewhere. I don’t always agree with the court’s rulings but when they rule on a Fourth Amendment case or significant criminal issue . It does impact a lawyer in the trenches or their client facing a jail cell.