Jenner & Block

Adam Unikowsky Argues Third Supreme Court Case in Four Weeks

On April 18, 2017, Jenner & Block Partner Adam G. Unikowsky argued against the Securities and Exchange Commission in Kokesh v. SEC, a case before the US Supreme Court that will consider whether the five-year statute of limitations in a general federal provision governing penalties and forfeitures applies to claims by the SEC seeking disgorgement of illegally obtained profits.

When Mr. Unikowsky presented this oral argument, it was his third time before the Court in less than a month.

On March 20, Mr. Unikowsky appeared before the Court to represent John Howell in a dispute over his ex-wife’s share of his military retirement pay after Mr. Howell opted to waive part of that pay in favor of disability benefits for a disability that arose after the divorce. Mr. Unikowsky argued that federal law pre-empted a state court’s ability to direct his client to indemnify his former spouse for the reduction in her portion of his retirement pay resulting from his post-divorce decision to take disability.

Just nine days later, on March 29, Mr. Unikowsky appeared before the Court again, this time on behalf of Terry Honeycutt. Mr. Honeycutt, who was convicted of participating in a drug conspiracy with his brother, challenged a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals order that he forfeit almost $70,000 in profits from the drug sales – proceeds that he never received.

The Kokesh case has engendered a good deal of attention, as billions of dollars in potential liability could be at stake. Amicus briefs in support of Mr. Kokesh have been filed by organizations including the US Chamber of Commerce, the American Petroleum Institute and the Cato Institute, as well as by businessman and investor Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks.

Mr. Unikowsky’s three Supreme Court appearances come on the heels of two wins he achieved during the Court’s last term, arguing and prevailing in Commonwealth of Puerto Rico v. Luis M. Sanchez Valle et al. and winning without argument in V.L. v E.L. In Sanchez Valle, the Court agreed with his argument that Puerto Rico and the United States may not each prosecute an individual for the same crime, because, for purposes of double jeopardy, Puerto Rico is not a separate sovereign.

In V.L. v. E.L., Mr. Unikowsky persuaded the Court to uphold the parental rights of an adoptive mother after her same-sex relationship with her children’s birth mother ended, ruling that the Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause required Alabama to honor Georgia adoptions.