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Docket Digest - March 3rd, 2021

Docket Digest - March 3rd, 2021
Good Afternoon,
This week’s Digest includes a #SCOTUSSpotlight of Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor and a #CaseCommentary for a question before the Supreme Court of the United States pertaining to probable cause.
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Without further ado… All rise.

#SCOTUSSpotlight - Sonia Maria Sotomayor
Sonia Maria Sotomayor was born on June 25, 1954 and is the first Hispanic and Latina member of the Supreme Court. Growing up in The Bronx, to Puerto Rican parents, Sotomayor was inspired to pursue a legal career and judgeship after watching the Perry Mason television series at just 10 years old. Sotomayor received a full scholarship to Princeton University for undergraduate school, and then to Yale Law School in 1976, on a scholarship as well. Sotomayor praises affirmative action for letting students like herself from “disadvantaged backgrounds” to be “brought to the starting line of a race many were unaware was even being run.” After graduating from law school, Sotomayor was hired as an assistant district attorney in New York County. Sotomayor handled cases such as shoplifting and prostitution to robberies, assaults, and murders. Finally, after pursuing a range of legal positions, serving on various public service committees, and serving on the U.S. Federal District Court of New York and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in 2008, Sotomayor was nominated for the Supreme Court seat by President Barack Obama. After Senate hearings, Sotomayor was confirmed by the full Senate by a vote of 63-31. Sotomayor has been associated with the liberal side of the court. In her first couple of years on the court she ruled in agreement with Breyer, Ginsburg and Kagan, all three known to be of a liberal judicial philosophy. Notably, in January 2021, Sonia Sotomayor swore in Kamala Harris as the first black and South Asian and female Vice President. 
Interesting Fact: Sotomayor identifies as a “Nuyorcian,” which refers to members of the Puerto Rican diaspora located in or around NYC. Born and raised in NYC, Sotomayor has always been a huge New York Yankees fan.
#CaseCommentary - Lange v. California
“Probable cause” is a legal term that basically means that a police officer has either: a pretty good reason to believe that a crime may have been committed that requires an arrest, or knowledge that a crime was committed because there is evidence, which requires “search,” or investigation. A police officer must prove this “probable cause” (why he believes strongly that a crime has been committed, or present evidence of the crime), in order for a court to grant him or her a warrant. If a police officer can show probable cause, then in the former case, he can receive an arrest warrant and arrest the person whom he or she believes committed a crime, or in the latter situation, he can receive a search warrant, to search the evidence of the crime. However, there are what is called “exigent circumstances” aka crazy and unpredictable circumstances, that allow a police officer with probable cause to arrest someone or search something without a warrant. In the case currently in front of the Supreme Court, Lange v. California, the court is asked to determine whether a police officer who has probable cause that someone committed a misdemeanor (low level crime), can enter a garage without a search warrant? In other words, is entering a home because the officer has probable cause that the person who lives there committed a low level crime, considered one of those crazy circumstances that allows a police officer to search someone or something, without a warrant?
Specifically, a California Highway Patrol officer saw Arthur Gregory Lange in his parked car, playing music loudly and honking his horn even though no other vehicles were nearby. The officer, thinking this was odd, followed Lange for several blocks. Eventually, the officer turned his lights on and Lange did not stop. Lange tuned into a driveway and drove into a garage. The officer interrupted the closing garage door and following Lange in the garage. Lange was then charged with two Vehicle Code misdemeanor and an infraction. Lange argued at court that officer followed him into the garage without a warrant and this is not one of those unpredictable crazy circumstances where a warrantless search would be allowed. The officer obviously disagrees. He says that this was one of those crazy circumstances. What do you think? For reference, entering someone’s apartment without a warrant because the officer smelled marijuana was an exigent circumstance. Also, warrantless entry was allowed when it was necessary to render aid to an injured person. 
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