By MICHAEL BIESCHER/Associated PressThe Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court to overturn a decision by the nation’s highest court that struck down a government policy that prosecutors can prosecute defendants without having to first get a conviction.
The high court’s 5-4 decision in the case of United States v.
Hernandez said that prosecutors cannot rely on the federal Innocence Lost Act to pursue convictions without first obtaining convictions from state or local prosecutors.
The justices ruled in the landmark case of Hernandez, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the killing of an armed robber in 2011.
Prosecutors had tried to use the federal law to bring a felony charge against Hernandez, but Hernandez’s attorneys argued that the federal statute did not provide for such an action.
The Supreme Court said it would hear oral arguments in the Hernandez case on Feb. 18.
The justices’ decision is expected in June.
If the Supreme and 5-0 majority decide to overturn the lower court’s ruling, prosecutors would have to file a petition with the justices to have their convictions overturned.
If they win, they would have the right to use state and local courts to seek additional criminal charges against Hernandez.
If they lose, they could still use federal court and state courts to bring charges, but they would also have to seek approval from a federal appeals court.
The appeals courts have typically ruled that federal prosecutors have the discretion to pursue a criminal charge.