Jenner & Block Supreme Court and Appellate Clinic — Recent Cases

Since its launch in 2016, the clinic has represented parties in eleven U.S. Supreme Court cases spanning a wide range of issues. The clinic also has filed numerous amicus curiae briefs and petitions for certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court.

In addition, in recent years, the clinic has represented clients in appeals before the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in criminal, habeas corpus, and civil rights cases.

Recent U.S. Supreme Court Cases

Artis v. District of Columbia, 138 S.Ct. 594 (2018), co-counsel for Petitioner Stephanie C. Artis

At issue was how to calculate the statute of limitations when state-law claims initially are filed in federal court, but then are dismissed by the federal court because it declines to exercise jurisdiction. The Court ruled in favor of Ms. Artis, holding that the applicable federal statute “stops the clock” on the limitations period for the state-law claims while they are pending in federal court.

Cochran, et al., v. Gresham, et al., and Arkansas v. Gresham, et al., Case Nos. 20-37 and 20-38, co-counsel for Respondents Charles Gresham, et al.

Respondents argued in their briefing that the Secretary of Health and Human Services’ approval of Medicaid demonstration projects in Arkansas and New Hampshire that conditioned health insurance coverage on satisfying work requirements was arbitrary and capricious, in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. The Court did not reach that merits question, and instead vacated the judgments in the case on mootness grounds.

Honeycutt v. United States, 137 S.Ct. 1626 (2017), co-counsel for Petitioner Terry M. Honeycutt

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of Mr. Honeycutt, holding that federal criminal asset forfeiture statutes apply only to property a defendant actually acquired as the result of the crime, or to substitute property under narrowly defined circumstances. The Court rejected the government’s argument that members of a criminal conspiracy are subject to joint and several liability for forfeiture.

Kokesh v. Securities and Exchange Commission, 137 S.Ct. 1635 (2017), co-counsel for Petitioner Charles R. Kokesh

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of Mr. Kokesh, holding that the five-year statute of limitations in a general federal statute governing penalties applies to SEC claims seeking disgorgement of illegally obtained profits. The Court rejected the government’s view that there is no statute of limitations applicable to disgorgement claims.

Manuel v. City of Joliet, 137 S.Ct. 911 (2017), co-counsel for Respondent City of Joliet

The case centered on the relationship between the tort of malicious prosecution and the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court majority decision did not reach that question. It instead acknowledged that a Fourth Amendment claim could survive the initiation of legal process in a case, and it remanded the case to the Seventh Circuit to determine the parameters of such a claim—including when it accrues—in the first instance.

Marinello v. United States, 138 S.Ct. 1101 (2018), co-counsel for Petitioner Carlo J. Marinello II

At issue was the scope of 26 U.S.C. §7212(a), which makes it a felony to “corruptly or by force or threats of force . . . obstruct or impede, or endeavor to obstruct or impede, the due administration” of the Internal Revenue Code. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mr. Marinello, holding that this provision requires the federal government to prove the defendant was aware of a pending tax-related proceeding, such as a particular investigation or audit, or could reasonably foresee that such a proceeding would commence.

McDonough v. Smith, 139 S.Ct. 2149 (2019), co-counsel for Respondent Youel Smith

At issue was when a claim for “fabricated evidence” under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 accrued for statute of limitations purposes. The courts below held that the claim was untimely, concluding that the limitations period began to run when the evidence was used. In a 7-2 decision, the Court held that the limitations period did not begin to run until the Petitioner’s acquittal, and therefore reversed.

Nance v. Ward, 142 S.Ct. 2214 (2022), co-counsel for Petitioner Michael Nance

Mr. Nance raised an Eighth Amendment challenge to Georgia’s sole statutorily authorized method of execution, lethal injection. At issue in the case was whether Mr. Nance could bring his method-of-execution claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a federal civil rights law that allows individuals to seek remedies when their constitutional rights are violated. A majority of the Court ruled in favor of Mr. Nance, agreeing that § 1983 was an appropriate procedural vehicle for Mr. Nance’s claim. The case thus confirmed that prisoners have judicial recourse to seek protection from cruel and unusual punishment.

Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta, 142 S.Ct. 2486 (2022), co-counsel for Respondent Victor Manuel Castro-Huerta

The question presented in this case was whether the federal government and the state of Oklahoma have concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed by non-Indians against Indians in Indian country. In a 5-4 majority opinion, the Court ruled in favor of the Petitioner, holding that the federal government and state of Oklahoma have concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute these crimes. Justice Gorsuch filed a dissenting opinion that was joined by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan.

Sharp v. Murphy, 140 S.Ct. 2412 (2020), co-counsel for Respondent Patrick Dwayne Murphy

The question presented was whether Congress had disestablished the reservation of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in Oklahoma for purposes of federal criminal law. After briefing and oral argument during the Court’s 2018 Term, the Court held the case for re-argument during its 2019 Term. The Court then took another case (McGirt v. Oklahoma, 140 S.Ct. 2452 (2020)) raising the same issue during the 2019 Term. In a 5-4 decision in that case, the Court agreed with the position taken by the Clinic in Murphy, holding that these lands remained an Indian reservation for purposes of federal criminal law. The Court then ruled in favor of Mr. Murphy in the Murphy case.

Recent U.S. Supreme Court Amicus Briefs

Ayestas v. Davis, amicus curiae brief in support of the petitioner

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of the position taken by the clinic in the case, holding that the lower court applied the wrong standard in denying the capital habeas petitioner’s request for funding for investigative and expert resources during his federal post-conviction proceedings. The clinic’s brief explained that access to such investigative and expert resources during federal post-conviction proceedings is often essential to vindicating a meritorious claim and avoiding the imposition of an unconstitutional death sentence. 

Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, amicus curiae brief in support of the petitioner

A majority of the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the position taken by the clinic in the case, holding that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires a school to offer an individualized education program reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.  The clinic’s brief argued that this Act was meant to “consistently and clearly” raise expectations for the quality of education provided to students with disabilities. 

Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, amicus curiae brief in support of the respondents

At issue was whether the Supreme Court should overrule its prior precedent and hold that Illinois’ public-sector “agency shop” arrangement violated the First Amendment. The clinic’s brief argued that doing so would undermine one of the most important vehicles for providing economic and professional opportunities for workers in the United States—and, in particular, for workers who are women and people of color. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court overruled its prior precedent and held that Illinois’ “agency shop” arrangement violated the First Amendment. 

Kahler v. Kansas, amicus curiae brief on behalf of the petitioner

The question presented is whether the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments permit a state to abolish the insanity defense. The clinic’s brief argued that abolition of the insanity defense is incompatible with the Anglo-American legal tradition and with commonly accepted rationales for punishment. The case will be argued during the 2019 Supreme Court Term.

Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado, amicus curiae brief in support of the petitioner

A majority of the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the position taken by the clinic in the case, holding that when a juror makes a clear statement indicating that he or she relied on racial stereotypes or animus to convict a criminal defendant, a rule prohibiting jurors from impeaching their verdicts must yield to the Sixth Amendment, so that the trial court can consider the evidence of the juror's statement and any resulting Sixth Amendment violation. The clinic’s brief argued that there is a long history of allowing jurors to impeach their verdicts to ensure fairness.

The American Legion v. American Humanist Association, amicus curiae brief in support of the respondent

At issue in the case was whether the government violated the Establishment Clause by maintaining a 40-foot-tall Latin Cross as a memorial to those who gave their lives for the United States in World War I. The clinic’s brief argued that the Latin Cross does not commemorate or honor the sacrifice of Jewish soldiers who, with equal devotion, gave their lives for the country. The clinic’s brief was cited in a concurring opinion and a dissenting opinion in the case.

Trump v. Hawaii, amicus curiae brief in support of the respondents

At issue was Presidential Proclamation 9645, sometimes referred to as the “travel ban.” The clinic’s brief responded to the government’s argument that the respondents’ challenge was unreviewable by the courts. As the clinic’s brief explained, the history of the doctrine of consular non-reviewability and the Supreme Court’s cases demonstrate that the courts have consistently been open for these sorts of claims—and holding them unreviewable therefore would represent a marked and unwarranted change in the law. In its 5-4 ruling in the case, the Supreme Court declined to rule on this issue, assuming without deciding for purposes of the opinion that the respondents’ claims were reviewable.

United States v. Sineneng-Smith, amicus curiae brief in support of the respondent

At issue in the case was whether the federal criminal prohibition against encouraging or inducing illegal immigration for commercial advantage or private financial gain, in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv) and (B)(i), is facially unconstitutional. The Clinic’s brief explained that the government has used this prohibition to interfere with and chill a substantial amount of protected speech along the southern border. The Supreme Court did not reach the constitutional question in the case. Instead, in a unanimous opinion, the Court vacated the appellate court decision and remanded the case, holding that the appeals panel departed so drastically from the principle of party presentation as to constitute an abuse of discretion.

Recent Seventh Circuit Cases

Pennewell v. Parish, et al., counsel for Plaintiff-Appellant James Vern Pennewell

Mr. Pennewell entered prison blind in one eye, and then became legally blind in his other eye while incarcerated. He claimed that prison medical providers were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs—including treatment for a detached retina—in violation of the Eighth Amendment. On appeal, the clinic argued that the district court erred in refusing to recruit counsel for Mr. Pennewell (who proceeded pro se throughout the district court proceedings) and in granting summary judgment to the defendants. The Seventh Circuit vacated the judgment and remanded the case with instructions to recruit counsel for Mr. Pennewell. In its published opinion, the Seventh Circuit explained that the district court abused its discretion in holding that, based on his adequate pleadings, Mr. Pennewell was competent to litigate the case without counsel.