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Gene Patent Case: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc. that a naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated. They also found that synthetically created DNA (cDNA) is patent eligible under 35 U.S.C. 101 because it is not a product of nature. Myriad Genetics holds patents on genes that have been linked to breast and ovarian cancer. Read articles in the ABA Journal , the New York Times and the Washington Post . See the SCOTUSblog coverage on this case.
Protests at the Supreme Court: A judge for the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia has struck down the law banning protests and demonstrations at the plaza of the U.S. Supreme Court. In her opinion, Judge Beryl Howell writes, “Regardless of whether this statute prohibits expressive activity in a public or nonpublic forum, the absolute prohibition on expressive activity in the statute is unreasonable, substantially overbroad, and irreconcilable with the First Amendment”. Read the full memorandum opinion here . In a possible reaction to this decision, the Supreme Court has issued a new regulation barring most demonstrations on the plaza in front of the courthouse. Read this article in the New York Times .
Judicial Interference: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Davila that under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 11 that governs guilty pleas, judicial participation in plea negotiations does not automatically require vacatur of a defendant’s guilty plea. In this case, the trial judge advised the defendant to plead guilty. The 11th Circuit found that the judge’s comments at the hearing amounted to judicial participation in plea discussions. However, in her opinion, Justice Ginsburg writes, “Rule 11(h) provides that ‘a variance from the requirements of [Rule 11] is harmless error if it does not affect substantial rights’”. Read articles in Courthouse News Service and Jurist .