Monday, October 24, 2011

Some quick hits for Monday afternoon

1. Justice Stevens has written this interesting review of William J. Stuntz's intriguing book, The Collapse of American Criminal Justice. It starts out this way:
William Stuntz was the popular and well-respected Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law at Harvard University. He finished his manuscript of The Collapse of American Criminal Justice shortly before his untimely death earlier this year. The book is eminently readable and merits careful attention because it accurately describes the twin problems that pervade American criminal justice today—its overall severity and its disparate treatment of African-Americans.
2. Magistrate Judge Seltzer is skeptical of this skeptic (via Sun-Sentinel):
Pena, 49, and Randi, 83, have remained high-profile figures in the world of skepticism for decades, and Randi is famous around the world for debunking people who profess to have paranormal powers. He runs the James Randi Educational Foundation dedicated to skepticism.The deal to get Pena — whose full name is Deyvi Orangel Pena Arteaga — out on bond was worked out at the last minute Thursday night by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bertha Mitrani and Pena's defense attorney, Susan Dmitrovsky.U.S. Magistrate Barry Seltzer asked the attorneys if there was any paperwork — a passport or travel visas — to show Pena was who he said he was."Do we have anything to confirm this his true identity?" the judge asked. "I can't release a defendant unless I have some idea who he is."Mitrani said she and the federal agents working on the case had not had time to check for immigration records, but that she was comfortable Pena was his actual identity and that he would not try to flee the country if released on bond."We are going to verify and vet the information he gave us," Mitrani told the judge.
3. The NY Times has this piece on Justice Thomas. From the intro:
Justice Clarence Thomas was sworn in to the Supreme Court 20 years ago today. After two decades on the bench, he remains a legal outlier even on the conservative court. The results he reaches are often radical, and where his ideas come from even more so.

favors cutting back the authority of the federal government and letting states “decide for themselves how to safeguard the health and welfare of their citizens.”

believes that “the Constitution left religion to the states” and that the First Amendment’s prohibition against Congress’s enacting laws on the establishment of religion “was intended to protect” the right of states to do as they please.

wants to roll back what most Americans consider racial progress because the “Constitution abhors classifications based on race” and even when the government uses them to solve problems and confer benefits, “it demeans us all.”

Extreme as those views are, the most extreme part of Justice Thomas’s record is not what he decides, but how. Justice Antonin Scalia told a
biographer of Justice Thomas, Ken Foskett, that Justice Thomas “doesn’t believe in stare decisis, period.”


Anonymous said...

The Amazing Randi isn't just amazing, he's awesome! He not only debunks psychics and cold readers, he also debunks things like astrology. Now if he could only debunk the view that innocent people must be incarcerated unless they can prove their trustworthiness before they will be let out (well, indigent people anyway, rich people are presumed trustworthy and get bond)

Anonymous said...

"stare decisis," what's that?

Isn't that the synonym for "do not publish" and "per curiam"?

Anonymous said...

Professor Stuntz was my criminal law professor. Not only was he a tremondous and prolific scholar, he was also a wonderful human being. His view of criminal law was practical, incisive and balanced with an overwhelming amount of humanity.