Supreme Court Notebook

High court rejects Gitmo detainee appeal
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court declined Tuesday to take a new case involving a Guantanamo Bay detainee who was ordered released by a federal judge before an appeals court said he could continue to be held.

The court turned down an appeal from Mohammed Al-Adahi, a Yemeni who has spent more than eight years at the U.S. naval base in Cuba.

In 2009, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler said there was not “reliable evidence” to justify al-Adahi’s continued detention, despite his family ties to Osama bin Laden, his admission that he met with the terrorist mastermind in the weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks and his attendance at an al-Qaida training camp.

But last year, the federal appeals court in Washington voted 3-0 to reverse Kessler’s decision, saying she displayed insufficient skepticism about al-Adahi.

The appeals court opinion was written by Judge A. Raymond Randolph, whose decisions against the detainees have fared poorly at the court.

The justices have overruled him three times and sided with detainees who were seeking access to U.S. courts to argue that they should not be detained.
Randolph has been openly critical of the high court rulings, even delivering a lecture on the topic in October to the conservative Heritage Foundation.

His talk argued that the court’s decision in 2008 that extended some constitutional protections to the detainees created a “legal mess” that the justices were leaving for other judges to clean up.

In the 3-0 decision, the appeals court said there is ample evidence that al-Adahi was more likely than not part of al-Qaida.

“One of the oddest things about this case is that despite an extensive record and numerous factual disputes,” the judge “never made any findings about whether al-Adahi was generally a credible witness,” wrote Randolph, an appointee of former President George H.W. Bush.

Randolph said that “put bluntly, the instructions to detainees are to make up a story and lie.”

The other appeals judges on the case were Brett Kavanaugh, an appointee of former President George W. Bush; and Karen LeCraft Henderson, an appointee of Bush’s father.

Al-Adahi said he attended al-Qaida’s Al Farouq training camp for seven to 10 days out of curiosity and was expelled for disobeying rules.

Court won’t hear appeal from NY couple
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court won’t overturn the convictions of a suburban New York City couple convicted of enslaving two Indonesian housekeepers.

The high court on Tuesday refused to hear appeals from Mahender and Varsha Sabhnani that sought to overturn their forced-labor convictions.

The couple was convicted of enslaving two domestic servants the couple brought from Indonesia by keeping their travel documents and having them perform forced labor on their behalf.

Prosecutors said Varsha Sabhnani was primarily responsible for inflicting years of abuse on the poorly educated servants. They said her husband let the abuse take place and benefited from the work the women performed in their $2 million Long Island home.

Varsha Sabhnani says pre-trial publicity prevented her from getting a fair trial, while her husband argues that he shouldn’t have been convicted for aiding and abetting because he didn’t stop his wife.

The cases are Mahender Sabhnani v United States, 10-475 and Varsha Sabhnani v United States, 10-476.

High court rejects appeal in execution
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from death row inmate Daniel Wayne Cook, convicted of strangling two men in Arizona in 1987.

The justices did not comment on their order Tuesday. Cook says his death sentence should be reversed because he has post-traumatic stress disorder and organic brain damage.

Separately, he was challenging the state’s use of a sedative drug in executions. Arizona has acknowledged buying the sedative from a company in Britain because of a shortage of the drug in the United States. The state has refused to disclose the company that manufactures it.

Court won’t hear appeal of toy maker trademark win
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court won’t hear an appeal from a South Carolina children’s literature publisher of a court decision ordering it to pay $3.6 million to an international toy maker in a trademark case.

The high court on Tuesday refused to hear an appeal from Super Duper Publications. A federal judge ordered the company to pay Mattel Inc. about $1 million in damages and $2.6 million in attorney fees. The Greenville-based publisher must also destroy some merchandise.

The toy maker claims the company used its catch phrase “say” in some products, like “See It! Say!” and “Fish and Say.” Mattel has held a trademark on the phrase for 40 years, beginning with its “See N Say” pull toy.

The case is Super Duper Inc. v. Mattel, Inc., 10-603.

Court turns down appeal of child porn conviction
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a former southwestern Illinois trial attorney who was convicted of child pornography charges based on the nude pictures he kept from his mid-1970s affair with his teenage sister-in-law.

Gary Peel used to live in Glen Carbon, Ill. He wanted the court to throw out the conviction because there was no federal child pornography law when he took the shots of his sister-in-law in 1974. She was 16 at the time.

The justices on Tuesday turned down his appeal without comment.

Authorities learned of the pictures when Peel, after filing for bankruptcy in 2005, tried to blackmail his ex-wife into reopening the financial arrangement they made as part of their divorce. She went to the police.

Court won’t reconsider Sudan lawsuit dismissal
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court won’t reconsider the dismissal of a $50 million lawsuit against the United States over President Bill Clinton’s 1998 missile strikes in Sudan.

The court on Tuesday refused to hear an appeal from the El-Shifa Pharmaceutical Industries plant in North Khartoum, Sudan.

The strikes were in retaliation for the bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania by Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network. Clinton said the plant was connected to bin Laden’s terrorist activities.

The plant owners sued, saying they were defamed to justify the strike. They also were never compensated for the plant’s destruction.

The lower courts threw out the lawsuit, saying the strike was a political decision that cannot be reviewed by the courts.

The case is El-Shifa Pharmaceutical Industries Co. v. United States, 10-328.

Justices remove roadblocks in 2 Texas executions
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has rejected appeals from two Texas death row inmates whose executions the court had previously blocked.

In denying appeals Tuesday from former Army recruiter Cleve Foster and Gayland Bradford, the justices cleared the way for the state to schedule new execution dates for the two men.

Last week, the court stopped Foster’s lethal injection hours before he was to die for a rape and killing in Ft. Worth nine years ago. In October, Justice Antonin Scalia granted a reprieve to Bradford who received a death sentence for the shooting death of a Dallas grocery store security guard more than two decades ago.

Court rejects appeal over DC gay marriage law
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from opponents of same-sex marriage who want to overturn the District of Columbia’s gay marriage law.

The court did not comment Tuesday in turning away a challenge from a Maryland pastor and others who are trying to get a measure on the ballot to allow Washingtonians to vote on a measure that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

Bishop Harry Jackson led a lawsuit against the district’s Board of Elections and Ethics after it refused to put that initiative on the ballot. The board ruled that the ballot question would in effect authorize discrimination.

Last year, Washington began issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples and in 2009, it began recognizing gay marriages performed elsewhere.

High court rejects appeal in Arizona execution
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from Arizona death row inmate Daniel Wayne Cook, convicted of strangling two men in 1987.

The justices did not comment on their order Tuesday. Cook says his death sentence should be reversed because he has post-traumatic stress disorder and organic brain damage.

Separately, he is challenging the state’s use of a sedative drug in executions. Arizona has acknowledged buying the sedative from a company in Great Britain because of a shortage of the drug in the United States. The state has refused to disclose the company manufacturing it.

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