Rosales-Mireles v United States

Rosales-Mireles sought review of the 5th Circuit decision rejecting his plain error challenge to his sentence. Resolving a split on what must be shown for an error to seriously affect the fairness, integrity or public reputation of judicial proceedings as an element of plain error, the Court, 7-2, reversed and remanded. It held the 5th Circuit’s shock the conscience or powerful indictment of the district court standard is wrong because it is too narrow ignoring the language of rule of Appellate Procedure 52(b) and Court precedent in the area and further held that miscalculated guideline ranges are ordinarily reversible plain error under the correct standard as unnecessary prison time is an unnecessary deprivation of the substantial right to liberty as the sentence is reasonably likely to be greater than necessary to serve sentencing goals. It rejected the dissent’s arguments holding resentencing under a correct guideline range is less burdensome than a new trial, this case is exceptional as the error likely increased his sentence and there are no countervailing factors as to fairness, the fact the sentence here was within the correct guideline is irrelevant to plain error guideline calculation analysis, and held fears about defense sandbagging is highly speculative. Thomas, joined by Alito, dissented arguing plain error is reserved for exceptional cases an is fact based and case specific which cannot be the case if merely demonstrating guideline calculation error is enough, there is no basis in 52(b) for the distinction between remands involving jury involvement and other cases and the majority opinion places defendants whose attorneys do not object almost on the same plane as those who do, pure procedural errors cannot be plain error  and Rosales-Mireles has a history of illegal entry and violence against women and the sentence here is towards the bottom of both the correct and incorrect ranges and 5th circuit held the sentence reasonable demonstrating the lack of any affect on fairness whatever.

Benisek v Lamone

Benisek appealed the denial of his motion for a preliminary injunction in a partisan gerrymandering case. The court affirmed per curium holding there was no abuse of discretion as the request for eth injunction came several years and three elections after the adoption of the district lines in this case, a regard for interest in orderly elections and the fact that a partisan gerrymandering case was already before the Court which could provide a correct legal framework all supported the denial.

Chavez-Mesa v United States

Chavez-Mesa sought review of the 1oth Circuit decision that the explanation provided by the district court at his sentence reduction was adequate. The Court, 5-3 with Gorsuch recused, affirmed. The majority held that if district courts have the same duty to explain at resentencing due to a reduced guidelines range as thy do at original sentencing, that duty was satisfied here by the issuing of a form order indicating all relevant factors were considered and the record reflects the original sentence was based on the large quantity of methamphetamine in this case and further reflects that the district court also took into account Chavez-Mesa’s conduct in prison and held there is no requirement that a reduced guideline range result in a proportionate reduction. Kennedy, joined by Sotomayor and Kagan, dissented arguing that there was no explanation whatever by the district court as to why it did not sentence Chavez-Mesa at the bottom of  the new range as it did with the original range, both the 10th circuit and majority here used speculation to fil in that gap, this problem of inadequate explanation could be remedied by adding various factors in the standard form to allow district court judges to identify what went into their decision-making and not requiring the explanation up front imposes burdens on defendants and the courts of appeals.

Lozman v City of Riviera Beach, Florida

Lozman sought review of the 11th Circuit decision that probable cause to arrest defeats his First Amendment retaliation claim. The Court, 8-1, vacated and remanded. The majority held that in the unique setting of this case, namely allegations of official policy to intimidate Lozman in retaliation for bringing a lawsuit against City and allegations the arrest here was done under that policy, the existence of probable cause does not defeat the retaliation claim and remanded for the 11th Circuit to consider whether Lozman proved his case under the standard identified in the majority opinion. Thomas dissented arguing that the majority decision adopts a rule no one argued for and probably does not apply in this case, that the circuit split on the issue demands resolution and the most analogous torts at common law require a plaintiff to prove the absence of probable cause and that should be the rule in retaliatory arrests claims as well.