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Reading is difficult. As a writer, I help the reader every way I can think of. As a reader, I work hard not to miss the big things in the middle of the road.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Which Criminal Defendants Have the Right to Appointed Counsel at Trial and on Appeal?

The Sixth Amendment guarantees indigent defendants, in state and federal criminal proceedings, appointed counsel in any case in which a term of imprisonment is imposed.United States v. Bryant, 136 S. Ct. 1954, 1958, 195 L. Ed. 2d 317 (2016) The federal constitution imposes on the states no obligation to provide appellate review of criminal convictions. McKane v. Durston, 153 U.S. 684, 687 (1894). Where an indigent has only one appeal, that person has a right to counsel as to that appeal. Douglas v. Cal., 372 U.S. 353, 357 (1963). A state need not appoint counsel to aid a poor person in discretionary appeals to the State's highest court, or in petitioning for review in the Supreme Court of the United States. Cf. Ross v. Moffitt, 417 U.S. 600, 615 (U.S. 1974).

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

From the Grave, Steve Jobs Reaches for all the Smartphone Profits of his Competitors, but SCOTUS stops Him.

The Supreme Court of the United States decides Samsung Electronics Co. v. Apple Inc. It came up on appeal from the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the national court of appeals for patent matters, among others. It had been established that Samsung, among others, infringed on some of Apple's patents in their cellphones-- things like having a rectangular front face with rounded edges and a grid of colorful icons on a black screen. Apple was awarded $399 million in damages—Samsung’s entire profit on their infringing phones. On certiorari to SCOTUS, Samsung, et al, complained that the Samsung defendants should not have to pay Apple all its profits, when many, if not most, of the features of their phones were not infringing. Justice Sotomayor, a former trademark lawyer, wrote an opinion for a unanimous Court reversing the lower court and remanding the case to it, That lower court is ordered to award Apple only those damages from the infringing aspects of the defendants' phones, not all of the profits the defendants made on the phones.

Samsung Electronics Co. v. Apple Inc., No. 15-777 (U.S., Dec. 6, 2016)

A hat tip goes out to our friend, The Woodlands' patent badass Basil Angelo, for sharing his views of the case. Of course, the views here are ours' and he is not responsible for them or for any errors in this post.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Amendments to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure Go into Force Today

Amendments to the federal rules of appellate procedure go into force today. This is a link to the rule changes. The most important changes will be to reducing word counts in briefs.

I feel forced to copy this here, because I don't know how long the Fifth Circuit's guidance about reducing word count and cases in briefing will be on the front of their web site.

Guidance regarding reduced word count and cases in briefing.

Reduced word counts became effective December 1, 2016, pursuant to changes to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure. To ensure fairness to parties, for cases in briefing where an appellant filed a brief before December 1, 2016, and an appellee's brief will be due on or after December 1, 2016, the appellee's brief may use the former (greater) word count limitation, if necessary.  As the court continues to consider possible changes with respect to new word count limitations, counsel are invited to review Fifth Circuit Circuit Rule 32.4.

Fifth Circuit miscellaneous fees are going up.