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The Nine Eye the Tenth: Briefs Requested, Sentence Vacated

By Robyn Hagan Cain | Last updated on

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals doesn't get as much love from the Supreme Court as its Ninth Circuit neighbors -- and by love, we of course mean reversal -- but the Denver-based appellate court and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals have been on the High Court's radar over the last week.

The Supreme Court recently issued two orders related to the Tenth Circuit.

First, the Court requested a brief from the Solicitor General expressing the federal government's views in the Tarrant Regional Water District v. Herrmann petition on Monday.

Tarrant Regional Water District, a Texas state agency, applied to the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) for permits to appropriate water at three locations in Oklahoma for use in Texas. Before filing its applications, Tarrant sued the nine members of the OWRB in federal court, seeking a declaratory judgment to invalidate Oklahoma statutes that govern the appropriation water and an injunction preventing OWRB from enforcing them.

Tarrant claimed that the Oklahoma statutes restrict interstate commerce in water, in violation the dormant Commerce Clause, and that Congress did not authorize Oklahoma through the Red River Compact to enact such laws. OWRB responded that Congress authorized Oklahoma to adopt these statutes by consenting to the Red River Compact. The district court sided with the OWRB in the matter. Last year, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court.

Tarrant is asking the Supreme Court to weigh in on the matter, and interpret how the Red River Compact affects the water board's authority.

If the Solicitor General indicates that the government supports OWRB's position, the Supreme Court is unlikely to grant certiorari in the case.

The second case, Cecilia Cathleen Rodriguez v. Oklahoma, came from the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, but it still should interest Tenth Circuit practitioners.

In Rodriguez, the Supreme Court vacated Cecelia Rodriguez's life sentence for shoplifting purses from a Dillard's department store, reports The Oklahoman. The Court remanded to the case to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals for further consideration in light of Missouri v. Frye, the March decision holding that the Sixth Amendment guarantees effective assistance of counsel during plea bargaining and all critical stages of a criminal proceeding.

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