|Latest developments indicate that Jay Cohen’s potentially landmark case and the issues it raises about online-gambling may never reach the Senate, say commentators at rgtonline.|
Under a new system, as few as one or two clerks will end up deciding if the issues raised by the case are heard by the Supreme Court, and it is feared that these clerks may not see the significance of such issues reaching the Supreme Court.
Cohen is famous for being the first internet-gambling operator convicted under the Interstate Wire Act of 1961. He has been fighting 4 years to have his conviction overturned. A few weeks back, Cohen’s legal team filed for a writ of cetiorari. Essentially this is a petition for the Supreme Court to hear his case.
Justice John Paul Stevens insists that every petition be read by at least one of his clerks. But eight Justices will be influenced by the judgment of a single law clerk.
Cohen’s freedom is hanging on the judgment of one or two Supreme Court law clerks. If the ‘Cert Pool’ clerk says 'deny', none of the eight judges will call for a response. If it weren't for the Cert Pool, nine clerks would be reading the petition instead of just two.
The deadline for a decision on the petition is March 25. The case could be resolved before the end of this month.
In seeking the Supreme Court to hear this case, Cohen's petition has two basic tenets:
It clearly and persuasively demonstrates conflicts between circuit courts and states.
It illustrates the importance of the case's core issue, and the impact the second circuit court's intellectually dishonest opinion has had on both the offshore and off-track betting industries.
It will take four of the Justices to vote in favour of certiorari for the case to be heard. Should this happen, a simple majority is required to overturn Cohen’s conviction.
Both of Cohen's attorneys at his new law firm are former law clerks of Justice Stevens. Moreover, Jenner & Block is the firm that handled the ACLU vs. Reno Internet pornography case, in which they bested the government all the way up to the S.C., where a 9-0 ruling in their favor was rendered.
There is one other long-shot scenario, according to commentators in rgtonline. If the Court takes the case and determines the applicable law is hazy, it could be thrown out on what is called the Rule of Lenity. That rule says any law interpretation that is grey goes in favour of the defendant, so all the preceding legal action would be reversed.
Kelso Sturgeon, the veteran handicapper says that if the case is heard, and even if the decision goes in Cohen's favor, it might not necessarily be a victory for the offshore industry. He noted that the decision could be broad with far-reaching implications, or narrow and with relevance just to the case at hand.
Cohen was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment, and a fine of $5,000, but is now out on two years of ‘supervised release’ and free on bond pending the outcome of his petition.