The Supreme Court's Twelve Days of Christmas, 2012

The Supreme Court, and a few other Courts, gave us some most interesting “gifts” this year. Turtle Doves or a partridge, some of these “gifts” might be considered coal in your fireplace stocking. Photo: Associated Press

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 23, 2012 ― The Supreme Court, and a few other Courts, gave us some most interesting “gifts” this year. Turtle Doves, a partridge and some calling birds aside, depending upon your viewpoint, some of these “gifts” might be considered coal in your fireplace stocking.

In the first month of ’12, our Supreme Court gave to us, US v. Jones, and indicated that before the Government places a GPS tracking device on your vehicle they must obtain a search warrant. Mr. Jones, a drug dealer, thus had his conviction overturned. Score one partridge in a pear tree for all of us as Fourth Amendment rights are upheld.

Also in the first month of ’12, our Supreme Court gave to us, CompuCredit v. Greenwood, a “right to sue” your credit card company case, and indicated that the mandatory arbitration clause in the contract is enforceable, despite what appeared to be very clear language also in the contract stating the consumer has the right to sue the provider. CompuCredit offered an immediate $300.00 credit line and then charged $257.00 in fees without telling the consumer, and then charged interest if the consumer didn’t pay the charges immediately.   By it’s decision, the Court denied consumers the right to sue and requires you pursue arbitration first. Denying access to the court despite a contract that says you have the right to sue, particularly in the face of the sheer deceit of what occurred, scores no turtle doves, but a lump of coal in your stocking.

In the second month of ’12, the Trayvon Martin shooting gave to us, another needed conversation about race. George Zimmerman, a white neighborhood watchman, killed Martin, a young black man. That Travyon had to die to trigger this conversation is, of course, horrible. The conversation, nonetheless, goes to cultural cues that contribute to viewing young black men as “criminally suspicious.” We do not get to sing about French Hens here, obviously.

In the third month of ’12, our Supreme Court gave to us, Howes v. Fields, and indicated that despite being interrogated for seven hours by sheriff’s deputies in a private prison conference room, Fields, a prisoner, was not entitled to Miranda warnings before he was asked about other criminal activity the deputies believed he had engaged in before coming to prison. Field’s conviction on the other crimes was upheld based on his statements. Score no calling birds as our Supremes blew it by denying Fields his constitutional rights.

Also in the third month of ’12, Lindsay Lohan gave to us (and she continued to do so throughout the year) more “I can’t believe it” shaking our heads and even dark humor, as she appeared for what seems another in a continuing string of court hearings. From her first DUI conviction in 1997 to this month, Lindsay’s antics have stayed “front and center” in the media and at water-coolers. She has had four jail stints, probation violations, alcohol problems, theft, and now has an assault charge pending. Lindsay’s probation violation hearing next month may again land her in jail. For reminding us “what not to do” Lindsay contributes to my song and we get five golden rings from her history and current lifestyle.

Also in the third month of ’12, our Supreme Court gave to us Missouri  v. Frye and Martel v. Clair, which together indicated a criminal defendant has a right to good legal counsel. Frye was not told about a plea deal by his court-appointed defense attorney, and after sentencing learned about the potential deal that would have been available to him. He would have taken the deal and served less time. Clair’s request for a replacement of his court-appointed attorney, because the attorney failed to pursue potentially important evidence, was allowed “in the interests of justice.” Score at least six geese-a-laying for the Justices in protecting our rights to effective assistance of counsel.

In the fifth month of ’12, our Supreme Court gave to us Astrue v. Capato and indicated that children conceived through in vitro fertilization after the death of a parent were not automatically entitled to survivor benefits under Social Security laws. Karen Capato’s effort to receive benefits for her twins, conceived by artificial insemination after her husband Robert died were denied. I did not design this deposited sperm case to coincide with my song, but clearly this is an injustice and there are no swimmers-a-swimming to sing about here.

Skipping to the sixth month of ’12, our Supreme Court gave us, well, actually, Chief Justice Roberts gave to us a national health care plan. In U.S. Department of Health and Human Services v. Florida and in National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebelius, what became known as ObamaCare got final approval and Americans clearly benefitted. I am aware many of you disagree. Nonetheless, my article, and I score at least eight maids-a-milking for the Chief Justice.

Also in the sixth month, our Supreme Court gave to us Holder v. Gutierrez and Holder v. Sawyer, cases involving “aliens” seeking relief from deportation. The Justices indicated in these cases that Gutierrez and Sawyer, who committed deportable offenses, as minors, could be deported and could not rely upon the fact that their parents met requirements to avoid deportation. The Court unanimously ruled that each individual must personally comply with the requirements, that is, they must have lived in the US for at least seven years and have been a lawful permanent resident for at least five years. Nine ladies are dancing here, so sing along unless you have been deported.

In the tenth month of ’12, our Pennsylvania courts gave to us a long and deserved sentence (30-60 years) for Jerry Sandusky after earlier in the year he was convicted of 45 counts of child abuse. Please sing along as ten lords-a-leaping do their thing.

In the last two months of ’12, our Supreme Court gave to us their thumbs up and indicated they will hear in this term issues relating to gay marriage and standards for admission to our nation’s colleges and universities (Fisher v. Texas). The time has come for a national position on same sex individuals marrying. Eleven pipers are piping very loudly, and appropriately so!

If the Court rejects the affirmative action plan of the University of Texas that considered race as one factor, not “the” factor, in determining admission, what will replace it? Should race be a factor in any sense? If so, how will schools achieve a measure of racial equality in admissions? I have seen a plan called “data mining” that measures and focuses on socio-economic status that is working in some places and seems to pass judicial muster. I’m not sure if the twelve drummers drumming here are playing taps or if their medley is boisterous.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year. May your 2013 not have to deal with the “fiscal cliff” disaster, and may you and your family have prosperity, peace, health and happiness.


Paul A. Samakow is an attorney licensed in Maryland and Virginia, and has been practicing since 1980.  He represents injury victims and routinely battles insurance companies and big businesses that will not accept full responsibility for the harms and losses they cause. He can be reached at any time by calling 1-866-SAMAKOW (1-866-726-2569), via email, or through his website. He is also available to speak to your group on numerous legal topics.  Paul is the featured legal analyst on the Washington Times Radio, on the Andy Parks show, on Wednesdays at 5:15 P.M., and he is a columnist on the Washington Times Communities.

His book The 8 Critical Things Your Auto Accident Attorney Won’t Tell You is free to Maryland and Virginia residents and can be obtained by ordering it on his website; others can obtain it on Amazon.




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Paul Samakow

Attorney Paul Samakow brings his legal expertise to the headlines from life and real-life experience to The Washington Times Communties. A native Washingtonian, Samakow has been a Plaintiff’s trial lawyer since 1980, with offices in Maryland and Virginia. 

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