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

Skinner v. Switzer, No. 09-9000: The Court granted review in this case to answer this question, left open in previous cases: "May a convicted state prisoner seeking DNA testing of crime-scene evidence assert that claim in a civil rights action under 42 U. S. C. §1983, or is such a claim cognizable in federal court only when asserted in a petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U. S. C. §2254?" The Court today reaffirmed that habeas is the exclusive remedy for a prisoner who seeks “immediate or speedier release” from confinement, but held that because a postconviction claim for DNA testing in a §1983 action only seeks access to the DNA evidence, "which may prove exculpatory, inculpatory, or inconclusive," such a claim may be made in a suit brought under §1983.

The Court's decision is available here.

Wall v. Kholi, No. 09-868: Under federal law, “a properly filed application for State post-conviction or other collateral review” tolls the 1-year limitation period for filing a federal habeas petition. The Court today held that "the phrase 'collateral review' . . . means judicial review of a judgment in a proceeding that is not part of direct review," and that, because a motion to reduce sentence under the state law at issue was not part of the direct review process, respondent’s motion tolled the limitation period and his federal habeas petition was therefore timely.

The Court's decision is available here.

Milner v. Dept. of the Navy, No. 09-1163: Petitioner, a local resident, submitted Freedom of Information Act requests for data and maps used by respondent in storing munitions at a naval base. The data and maps calculate and visually portray the magnitude of hypothetical detonations. Respondent refused to release the data, invoking a particular exemption which protects from disclosure material “related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency,” asserting that exemption applied here because court of appeals decisions had interpreted it to cover a situation where disclosure of "predominantly internal" materials would risk circumvention of the law. The Court today interpreted the exemption more narrowly as protecting only personnel rules and practices as those terms are normally understood. It therefore held that the exemption could not be used to protect the data and maps at issue, remanding for lower courts to determine if other exemptions might apply.

The Court's decision is available here.

The Court also granted review today in one case:

Golan v. Holder, No. 10-545: Section 514 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act of 1994 "restored" copyright protection in thousands of works that the Copyright Act had placed in the public domain, where educators, performers, and others had relied for years on the free availability of those works for performance, adaptation, and distribution without restriction. The Questions Presented are: Does the Progress Clause of the Constitution (which confers upon Congress the power to "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries") prohibit Congress from taking works out of the public domain, and does Section 514 violate the First Amendment?