The Supreme Court of the United States announced decisions in four cases this morning:

United States v. Jicarilla Apache Nation, No. 10-382: Respondent Tribe filed a breach-of-trust action, seeking monetary damages for the Government’s alleged mismanagement of tribal trust funds. During discovery, the Tribe moved to compel production of certain documents, and the Government opposed on the basis of attorney-client privilege. The lower courts agreed with the Tribe that under the “fiduciary exception” to the attorney-client privilege, a trustee who obtains legal advice related to trust administration is precluded from asserting the attorney-client privilege against trust beneficiaries. The Court today reversed, holding that the trust obligations of the United States to the Indian tribes are established and governed by statute rather than the common law, and in fulfilling its statutory duties the Government acts not as a private trustee but pursuant to its own sovereign interest in the execution of federal law. Accordingly, the common law "fiduciary exception" does not apply.

The Court's decision is available here.

Nevada Commission on Ethics v. Carrigan, No. 10-568: Petitioner Commission investigated respondent Carrigan, a local official who voted to approve a construction project proposed by a company that used his long-time friend and campaign manager as a paid consultant. The Commission concluded that Carrigan had a conflict of interest under state law and censured him for failing to abstain from voting on the project. When Carrigan sought judicial review, the Nevada Supreme Court held that voting is protected speech and that the state law conflicts provision was unconstitutionally overbroad. The Court today reversed, holding that the restriction on legislative voting in such a circumstance was not unconstitutional.

The Court's decision is available here.

Janus Capital Group, Inc. v. First Derivative Traders, No. 09-525: Respondent filed a private action under Rule 10b–5, which forbids “any person . . . [t]o make any untrue statement of a material fact” in connection with the purchase or sale of securities, alleging in part that a mutual fund's investment adviser was liable for false statements in prospectuses filed by the fund. The court of appeals held that the adviser had sufficiently "made" the statements by participating in their writing and dissemination, but the Court today reversed, holding that for Rule 10b–5 purposes, the maker of a statement is the entity with ultimate authority over the statement, including its content and whether and how to communicate it. Although the adviser may have been significantly involved, it did not itself “make” the statements at issue, since its role in what was said was subject to the fund's ultimate control.

The Court's decision is available here.

Flores-Villar v. United States, No. 09-5801: Two former sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act imposed a five-year residence requirement, after the age of fourteen, on United States citizen fathers before they could transmit citizenship to a child born out of wedlock abroad to a non-citizen, but the same requirement did not apply to United States citizen mothers. The Ninth Circuit held that these provisions did not violate the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause. Today, with Justice Kagan recused, an equally divided Court affirmed the lower court's judgment, without opinion.

The Court also granted review in four cases today:

Hall v. United States, No. 10-875: Whether 11 U.S.C. 1222(a)(2)(A) authorizes the bankruptcy court, in a case brought under Chapter 12 of the Bankruptcy Code, to treat as a dischargeable non-priority claim a federal tax debt arising out of the debtor’s post-petition sale of a farm asset.

Gonzales v. Thayer, No. 10-895: The Court limited its grant to these two questions: Was there jurisdiction to issue a certificate of appealability under 28 U.S.C. §2253(c) and to adjudicate petitioner’s appeal? Was the application for a writ of habeas corpus out of time under 28 U.S.C. §2244(d)(1) due to “the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review”?

Setser v. United States, No. 10-7387: What is the extent of a federal district court's authority to order how federal and state sentences should interact?

Smith v. Louisiana, No. 10-8145: Did the state courts ignore fundamental principles of due process in rejecting claims that the prosecution suppressed evidence favorable to the defendant and presented false and misleading evidence?