Monday, April 01, 2013

April Fools

Hope everyone had a nice spring break.  Now back to business.

1.  Adam Liptak doesn't care for Justice O'Connor's book "Out of Order."  From Sunday's review:

The book is short and padded. The main part, only 165 pages long, is interrupted by stock photographs and curious, unexplained editorial cartoons. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are included in an appendix. They are surely worth rereading from time to time, but their main purpose here seems to be to add some bulk to a very skimpy effort.
The illustrations are particularly infuriating markers of missed opportunities. In one cartoon from 1981, the year O’Connor joined the court, the Rev. Jerry Falwell is seen on his knees, praying and crying, as she swings in what looks like one of the scales of justice. He is not mentioned in the text, and the reader is left to guess at what he is so worked up about. That he wants O’Connor to vote to strike down Roe v. Wade? (She was, as it turned out, an author of a 1992 joint opinion reaffirming its core, also not discussed in the book.) 
The larger problem is not that Justice O’Connor’s little sketches and lessons are wrong. Quite the contrary. The problem is that they are empty. She writes, correctly, that “the court’s only weapon is its moral authority.” But she refuses to give this and similar sentiments substance.
In retirement, she writes, she has “taken up the cause of promoting civics education in our nation’s schools.” But civics are just a skeleton. They need the flesh of argument to come to life, to have bite, to matter.
 2.  Tony Mauro says enough is enough and wants cameras in the High Court.  He is absolutely correct:

Inside the U.S. Supreme Court last week, the justices were doing what they do best: dissecting a difficult legal issue — this time same-sex marriage — in the intense back-and-forth of oral argument.
Over two illuminating mornings, the justices and top-notch advocates worked through most of the pros and cons of giving same-sex marriage constitutional protection — or instead letting the political process continue the debate.
Outside the court, however, the scene was less noble. People seeking seats for the oral arguments were forced to wait in line, with some arriving five days earlier. Tents were pitched, and money changed hands, with some paying as much as $6,000 to a line-waiting service for the chance of securing a seat inside. Inevitably things got messy, and the line seemed more befitting of a music hall or an Apple store on the eve of the release of a new iPhone.
In one sense, the avid interest of those in line was a healthy sign that people really care about the issue and about how the Supreme Court — their Supreme Court — would handle it.
In another sense, it was a disgrace. The notion that spectators have to camp out or spend money to see a public institution do public business is offensive. It is the direct result of the court's arrogant and stubborn refusal to allow cameras to record and broadcast its proceedings. Some of those waiting for days for seats might still do so if cameras were allowed, but it is a safe bet that most would have preferred to watch the oral arguments in the comfort of home on C-SPAN rather than wait in line over several cold and snowy days in March.
While the public shivers, the justices — newcomers and veterans alike — refuse to give in to the reasonable demands of the information age. They are fearful of the changes that cameras might trigger in the dynamics between justices and advocates and with each other — as if the court were a fragile flower, instead of the sturdy institution it is, an institution that usually holds up well under public scrutiny.

3.  Rumpole, posting to this NY Times article on Project Mercy, asks if we have any Judge Gleesons in the Southern District of Florida.  Do we?

5.  Justice Scalia says he should be the "pinup of the criminal defense bar."  Via the Washington Post.

6.  Your Jeffrey Toobin moment of zen:


Rumpole said...

Check out the new Google Nose App- Google has a new scent search allowing you to identify smells and upload scents. We have a video and a link on the blog.

Anonymous said...

Saclia as a pinup? I wished he had used a different word. Now I have to have my brain scrubbed.

Anonymous said...

Horrible case from the 11th Circuit, U.S. v. Overstreet. No need to prosecute murder case in state court, just prosecute felon-in-possession case in feds and increase sentence by 300% based on circumstancial evidence and proof by preponderance on murder.

Anonymous said...

11:24 - that only works if the guy is a real career felon. In that case, this is quicker and cheaper than the murder trial (and years of proceedings on the appeal/habeas) and equally effective. Have no problem with it. An incorrigible guy with a .38 special is much more dangerous (in a free society) than a gun collector with an AK47. Hats off to the judge.

Anonymous said...

12:19 - no problem with it? The why even bother with any semblance of justice however slight. Just have the cop shoot the guy in the head. Saves even more resources. You probably wouldn't have any problem with a lynch mob either - very cost effective.

Anonymous said...

What about Overstreet's lawyer waiving oral argument?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, who needs trial by jury, proof beyond a reasonable doubt, confronting witnesses against you, compulsory process, etc.

Anonymous said...

you all are forgetting that he was found GUILTY (after due process, proof beyond a reasonable doubt, etc.) for being a felon in possession. The possible sentence was LIFE (given a horrific prior criminal history). He got (slightly) less than that. If the Judge believes there is compelling evidence that he was also guilty of a murder on top of everything else, that is a fine reason to exceed the guidelines. Plus, having him shot in the head by a cop would not save resources, given the costs of a section 1983 action. So no, that is not appropriate either (economically speaking). Again, better to throw the key away with an career armed offender (and let out if necessary drug defendants to make room). We should make felon in possession sentences stiffer across the board as well, though I guess from this case they really are in practice. So, again, good job by all involved.

Anonymous said...

Actually the stat max for felon in possession is 10 year - 18 USC 922(g). Try reading next time.