Supreme Court to hear appeal over 'Raging Bull'

The daughter of the man who wrote the Oscar-winning movie Raging Bull is hoping the Supreme Court will give her a final second TKO against a movie studio for ownership of boxer Jake LaMotta’s life story.

The high court on Tuesday agreed to hear an appeal over the movie’s copyright, one of eight cases granted by the justices as they prepare for the beginning of the new 2013-14 session on Oct. 7.

The court, on the cusp of its new fall term, will continue to conduct normal operations through Friday despite the government shutdown, including having the building open for tourists.

The Raging Bull case involves an appeal from Paula Petrella, the daughter of the movie’s author, Frank Petrella. The elder Petrella died in 1981, with his copyrights reverting to his daughter. She sued Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. for copyright infringement for creating and distributing copies of the movie, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said she waited too long before filing her lawsuit.

She “was aware of her potential claim (as was MGM) since 1991, when her attorney filed renewal applications for the 1963 screenplay,” the lower courts said. “She did not file her lawsuit until 18 years later, in January 2009.”

The Supreme Court will now review that decision.

Frank Petrella collaborated with his friend, LaMotta, on two screenplays and a book, which were used to make the movie directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro. The 1980 film won two Oscars, including best actor for De Niro.

The high court also decided to referee a gun case out of Tennessee where a man’s plea to misdemeanor domestic assault banned him from ever legally owning a gun again.

James Castleman pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor domestic assault in 2001. He was then charged in 2009 with illegal possession of a firearm by a person convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence after being caught in a straw-purchasing ring with his wife.

A federal judge threw the illegal gun possession charge out, however. Federal law bars a person convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence involving physical force or a deadly weapon from possessing a firearm. The judge said that the Tennessee misdemeanor domestic assault conviction does not require that physical force be used, and so the federal ban could not apply to Castleman.

That decision was upheld by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals but the government wants it overturned.

Justices will also decide whether a motorist’s anonymous tip about reckless driving is enough for police to pull over a car, without an officer’s corroboration of dangerous driving. Officers did not observe erratic driving, but acted after dispatchers received a 911 call saying a vehicle had run the caller off the road and identifying it by its model, color and license plate. Officers searched the truck after smelling marijuana, found four large bags of it and arrested driver Lorenzo Prado Navarette and passenger Jose Prado Navarette. They want the case thrown out.

Those cases will likely be heard early next year.

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