Archive for the ‘Justices’ Category

Podcast Listener Predicts Future

Posted: August 3, 2016 by Nazim in Justices, Moral High Ground

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A short while ago, Lane of Philadelphia asked if there were situations in which the Supreme Court would not be able hear a case due to conflict of interest. Well, it just happened in Nevada. So, Lane, what’s next? Lottery tickets? Sports betting? Being Biff?

To present both sides of the issue, “In 1800, just a decade after the court was founded, so many of its justices were out campaigning for John Adams that the opening of the court term had to be delayed.” Article at Politico.

WHAT HAPPENED:  After a long trial about a topic that doesn’t matter for purposes of this summary, a civil jury returned with a verdict that was objectively wrong.  The judge, who is tasked with supervising these types of things, only realized the mistake after letting the jury leave the courtroom.  To avoid having to do the trial all over again, the judge brought the jury back in the room, corrected their mistake, made sure they didn’t talk to each other, and then asked them to amend their verdict.

WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT:  Jurors are preserved in such a way that any nominal form of contamination of the jury process usually results in a mistrial.   Although this judge attempted to fix the problem, the appellant in this case feels like any dismissal should result in a new trial.

WHAT IS THE RULING:  This case is not yet decided.

WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS:  The only thing this case will decide is whether or not a jury can be saved after jury dismissal.  One side feels like it should be a balancing test that considers actual prejudice, whereas the other feels like we should have a bright line rule.  The only people this really affects in a broad way is judges, who both cause this issue and would have to fix this issue.

ROOT FOR DIETZ IF:  you like burning money.

ROOT FOR BOULDIN IF:  you would rather do something wrong once rather than re-do something a second time to make sure its right.

WHAT HAPPENED:  Defendant was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in Pennsylvania.  Somewhere along the line, a Motion for Post-Conviction Relief was granted in favor of Defendant, staying his death sentence.  That finding was appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, where it was reversed, thus reinstating the death penalty.

WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT:  As luck would have it, one of the Judges who reversed Defendant’s successful appeal used to work for the District Attorney in PA before being appointed to the bench.  While in his previous position, he was at least part of the decision to charge Defendant with death.  This potential conflict of interest is the crux of this case, where the Court has to determine whether or not this judge was biased enough to force recusal for Defendant’s appeal.

WHAT IS THE RULING:  This case is not  yet decided.

WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS:  There are potentially two different questions here that need to be asked.  (1)  Whether this particular judge should have recused himself on the appeal, and (2)  what are the rules going forward for judges in this position, because this judge is not the first or last person from the District Attorney’s Office to get appointed to an appellate court and hear a death penalty appeal.  Putting the specifics of Defendant’s case aside, this case could pass rules concerning under which circumstances judges should be recused based on previous work, which could affect death penalty appeals most specifically since they are both common and highly scrutinized.

ROOT FOR WILLIAMS IF: You are on-board with the “death by 1,000” cuts approach to dismantling the death penalty.

ROOT FOR PA IF: You watch Judge Dredd and think “maybe Stallone is on to something here…..”

WHAT HAPPENED?
Defendant (Owens) was charged and convicted of murder based on a suspicious eye-witness testimony and a ruling by the judge that was supported by flimsy evidence.  Defendant appealed through all applicable State Courts and was denied.  Defendant filed a motion for habeas corpus in federal courts and his motion was granted by the intermediate 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT?
While it is all fine and dandy that this particular defendant received a receptive audience in the 7th Circuit, there remains a problem in that there is no authority that actually grants the 7th Circuit the ability to grant this Motion.  It’s a classic case of common sense via court precedent.
WHAT IS THE RULING
This case is not yet decided.
WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS OF THIS DECISION?
If you extend the view broad enough, this case has fairly significant ramifications because it speaks highly to whether or not Courts should be more exact when it comes to flimsy evidence putting defendants in jail for life sentences.  If the 7th Circuit ruling is affirmed, it shows that the Court recognizes the current trend toward being more exact with criminal trials and gives appellate courts more authority to enforce that policy.  If the 7th Circuit ruling is reversed, well then nevermind back to business as usual.
YOU SHOULD ROOT FOR DUNCAN (i.e. THE STATE) IF YOU
Think martyrs are overrated.
YOU SHOULD ROOT FOR OWENS (i.e. THE DEFENDANT) IF YOU:
Are a huge fan of middle management

This week covers Arizona Legislature v. Arizona Districting Committee & EPA v. Michigan (both pdfs), which are two cases where the political result of both did not mesh with Brett and Nazim’s view of the legal rationale in the Court’s decisions.  In addition, Brett and Nazim play a spirited game of F@#$, Marry, Kill with American past times and figure out what “Naziming” is.

…gerrymandering is named after Elbridge Gerry, a politician who I believe attended the constitutional convention. The reason it is called “gerrymandering” is not because his last name is gerrymander, but because his redrawn district looked a lot like a salamander, so they called it gerrymandering. Fun fact, the correct pronunciation of his name is “Gary”, so it is actually pronounced “garymandering”. However, I would stick to saying “gerrymandering” instead of “garymandering” because it makes you sound like a pretentious douche.

Ideological Leanings of Supreme Court Justices 1950-2011. Source: wikipedia (linked).

We’re running back the same sex marriage case to talk about the Oral Argument held on April 28, 2015.  Brett and Nazim discuss the nuances of oral argument, who should be panicking based on the judge’s questions, and which N’Sync member can be most associated to Justice Breyer. Libsyn link

Internet-Enhanced Annotations (which we do not endorse):

From Supreme Court sketch artist Arthur Lien, as posted to twitter that day (linked).

From Supreme Court sketch artist Arthur Lien, as posted to twitter that day (linked).

How Does Equal Protection Work?

Posted: March 15, 2015 by Nazim in Equal Protection, Justices

Brett and Nazim discuss the convoluted way that the Supreme Court evaluates Equal Protection Claims.  In addition to walking through the three major tests used by the Court, the primary cases discussed involve why Virginia Military Academy could not exclude women, and then UPS v. Young, which deals with pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. Libsyn link

This woman has nothing to do with this issue, as far as I know. Source: US Veteran Affairs (linked).

This woman has nothing to do with this case, as far as I know. Source: US Veteran Affairs (linked).

Brett and Nazim continue to empty out the mailbag, discussing whether the Federal or State government could require mandatory vaccinations, the inner workings of the Supreme Court, and the difference between judicial interpretation of the law and judicial activism.  The last email also brings up the cases of Johnson v. U.S. and Whitfield v. U.S., where simple semantics could influence broader sentencing policy on guns and drugs. Libsyn link

Main Chamber of the US Supreme Court. Source: Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Main Chamber of the US Supreme Court. Source: Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Evolutionary vs. Originalist Perspectives

Posted: December 21, 2014 by Nazim in Justices

Brett and Nazim discuss three important issues.  (1) How to get to the Supreme Court.  (2) The two main viewpoints of the Supreme Court. (3)  Why the they do not passive-aggressively hate each other. Libsyn link

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code.

Top row (left to right): Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer, and Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Bottom row (left to right): Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Associate Justice Antonin G. Scalia, and Associate Justice Clarence Thomas.