"And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God"
-- Micah 6:8

"The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict."
-- American Bar Association Standard 3-1.2(c)

"There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."
--Pope Benedict XVI, June 2004

Monday, March 28, 2011

Troy Davis, "Not Innocent"

Supremes reject actual innocence appeal of Savannah cop-killer Troy Davis:

The most unusual fact of the Davis case was that, for the first time in nearly a half-century, the Supreme Court itself explicitly ordered a federal judge to go over the evidence to test Davis’s claim that he did not commit the crime that occurred in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant and bus station in Savannah on the night of August 19, 1989.

That judge wound up ruling that Davis “is not innocent.” Because of what that judge and the Eleventh Circuit Court had done later in the case, Davis’s last hope was in the Supreme Court itself. But, after examining at one Conference the complex array of maneuvers his lawyers had attempted, the Justices simply rejected all of them.

Not a single Justice dissented from the Supremes' ruling.

We last encountered Mr. Davis when he was trying his luck getting that District Court hearing, while getting useful tools on the political and religious left (alas, even some who claim to be orthodox Catholic apologists) to carry water for him.

Finally, there may be justice carried out for Officer Mark McPhail and his family.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Hell Freezing Over

Sonya Sotomayer is right. Sort of. Antonin Scalia is wrong.

Michigan police responded to a shooting call and found a man with a wound, asked him what happened, and he said he was shot by the defendant. The victim dies a few hours later. At trial, the victim's statements are introduced against the defendant and he is convicted of murder.

Result: Sotomayor concludes there was NOT a violation of the Confrontation Clause, because the police were not eliciting testimonial statements from the victim with a view towards ultimate prosecution, but responding to a perceived on-going emergency in which they did not know where the shooting happened, who the shooter was, or where he was located, and informally asking the victim questions geared to addressing those objective concerns.

Scalia, in dissent, and with his usual coyness, holds that:
Today’s tale—a story of five officers conducting successive examinations of a dying man with the primary purpose, not of obtaining and preserving his testimony regarding his killer, but of protecting him, them, and others from a murderer somewhere on the loose—is so transparently false that professing to believe it demeans this institution.
Scalia suggests that rather than focusing on the "primary purpose" of the questioning, a focus on the interrogator, the proper inquiry is solely on the declarant's purpose in making a statement. He concludes that in this case, the declarant could not have perceived anything other than that the police were hoping to identify his assailant in order to arrest and prosecute him. Result: a testimonial statement subject to the right of confrontation.

Justice Thomas, as is usually the case, answers the issue correctly (concurring in the majority result) rejecting the whole venture of attempting to recreate what the "primary purpose" of a questioning was. He maintains that this test is unhistorical and generates much uncertainty among police and trial courts.

Rather, according to Thomas, the Court should "consider the extent to which the interrogation resembles those historical practices that the Confrontation Clause addressed. See, e.g., id., at 835–836 (describing "practices that occurred underthe English bail and committal statutes passed during the reign of Queen Mary")." If the interrogation practices in a given case do not approximate those historical practices, then there is no violation of the Confrontation Clause by introducing the contents of the interrogation.

The case is Michigan v. Bryant.