An Overview of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2014 Term

The October 2014 term for the Supreme Court of the United States produced several decisions that directly impact the criminal legal system's response to domestic violence. The Battered Women's Justice Project (BWJP) has published summaries and analyses of some of this term's key decisions for the field.

Henderson v. U.S.

No. 13-1487 (Argued February 24, 2015; Decided May 18, 2015).

In Henderson , the Court held that a court-ordered transfer of a felon's lawfully owned firearms from law enforcement custody to a third party is not barred by current federal firearm prohibitions, if a court is satisfied that the transferee will not give the felon control over or actual use of the firearms. Read BWJP's summary and analysis.

Elonis v. U.S.

No. 13-983 (Argued December 1, 2014; Decided June 1, 2015)

In Elonis , the Court held that use of the negligence standard, with respect to the communication of a threat, is not sufficient to support a conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 875(c), which makes it a federal crime to transmit in interstate commerce “any communication containing any threat . . . to injure the person of another.” Read BWJP’s summary and analysis.

Ohio v. Clark

No. 13-1352 (Argued March 2, 2015; Decided June 18, 2015)

In Clark , the Court further refined the application of the “primary purpose” test in addressing whether statements fall under the purview of the Confrontation Clause. The Court held that the introduction at trial of statements made by a three-year-old boy to his teachers identifying his mother’s boyfriend as the source of his injuries did not violate the Confrontation Clause, when the child did not testify at trial, because the statements were not made with the primary purpose of creating evidence for prosecution. Read BWJP’s summary and analysis.