The Supreme Court starts its new term next Monday with few blockbuster criminal cases on the docket so far, although that could change. The court has set only a little more than half of its expected caseload for the term so far. McClatchy Newspapers report that one case already accepted tests the cause-and-effect comparison between drugs and death.
It involves convicted Iowa drug dealer Marcus Burrage, now serving 20 years in a federal prison in Texas. In what McClatchy calls a case that could be key for other accused dealers, as justices could determine what prosecutors must prove to secure conviction on a charge of distributing a drug that causes death. Many court-watchers expect to see cases challenging warrantless police searches of cellphones. In one, San Diego police used photos and videos stored on a Samsung smartphone to link the phone's owner to a criminal gang. The man says the search violated the Fourth Amendment, now a cutting-edge issue because of the proliferation of hand-held electronics.