Other Issues Before the Justices

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

VOTING RIGHTS : The Supreme Court will hear a case out of North Carolina on whether the Voting Rights Act applies to state legislative districts where a minority group makes up less than 50 percent of the population, but is still large enough to elect a candidate of its choice.

JURY INSTRUCTIONS: The justices agreed yesterday to consider reinstating the murder conviction of the driver in a gang-related drive-by shooting in Seattle in 1994. In his instructions to the jury, the trial judge said a defendant could be convicted of murder regardless of whether he knew of any plan for a killing. The appeals panel ruled that the jury should have been told the driver could be convicted of murder only if he knew what was being planned.

EVIDENCE: The court will decide whether prosecutors can use crime lab reports as evidence without putting the forensic analyst who prepared them on the stand to be subjected to cross-examination. The case may clarify whether recent Supreme Court decisions on the constitutional right of a defendant to confront his accusers extend to lab reports.

TOBACCO : The justices rejected an appeal of a California Supreme Court decision shielding Philip Morris USA and other cigarette makers from suits claiming they targeted minors in their advertising. The court had ruled in August that a federal law governing cigarette advertising prevents the suit from going forward.

-- From News Services

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