Just when we think we have the US Supreme Court Justices figured out, they pull us into Bizarro World… where everything and everyone behaves exactly the opposite. I am referring, of course, to the ruling of the US Supreme Court, and the dissent of Justice Antonin Scalia in the Michigan v Bryant case.
In civil cases, Justice Scalia routinely rules against the victims of Corporations and Government, often inventing Constitutional provisions that he routinely denies exists for individuals; the same Justice Scalia who recently opined that there are no Constitutional protections for women against discrimination. In criminal cases, however, he has routinely sided with white collar criminals and the unrestricted abuse of power by the Government. Maybe its the case that Justice Scalia has no sympathy or tolerance for victims of any sort. Until now.
The Supreme Court recently ruled on a case brought by a Michigan petitioner in a criminal trial. The issue in the case was that the police, on arriving at the scene of a shooting, come across a person dying. Five officers in succession question the dying man and ask him who shot him. The man identifies one Richard Bryant as the shooter and then died.
During the criminal trial the judge allowed the statement of the dying man into evidence and the man was convicted primarily on the basis of that statement. The Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees the right of anyone accused of a crime to confront their accuser(s). The accusers MUST be put under oath and be subject to examination. Until now.
In another startling denial of a Constitutional Right that has existed for hundreds of years, the Court ruled the statement could be allowed into evidence even though the accused could never be allowed the opportunity to question the accuser. What if the man who was shot was guessing? What if he was mistaken? What if he was delirious or confused? There are dozens of common sense reasons (and one former Constitutional right) why the statement should never be allowed in a trial. If Mr. Bryant was to be convicted it should have been on the basis of evidence he could try to refute.
However, the Supreme Court ruled that because the police claimed that they were worried that a murderer was loose, they wanted the information and acquired it “innocently”. Fair enough, but they should be required to gather other evidence and the trial should only include evidence that can be admitted under the rules. In virtually every murder there is a murderer loose and in virtually every crime there is a criminal loose. If the Government is allowed to use evidence in a trial that can never be subject to cross exams then they will be able to arrest and convict anyone they wish. All the Government has to say is “the person is dead… we can’t find the accuser… etc.”
What is less important, but just as remarkable, is the fact that some of the more reasonable Justices ruled to undermine a long established right and Justice Scalia was one of the dissenters on this travesty (Justice Ginsberg was the other). Bizarro. One portion of Scalia’s dissent is worth repeating: “For all I know, Bryant has received his just deserts. But he surely has not received them pursuant to the procedures that our Constitution requires. And what has been taken away from him has been taken away from us all.”
You made some very valid points regarding this case and I too wonder how this person could ever get a fair trial based on this type of evidence.
I think that often times there is a more compelling reason to convict so easily and quite simply, maybe it is to apease the angry public.
We live in a very angry society where possibly the most important thing is to convict someone even though evidence is not that strong.
Going back to more frontier type justice where just so long as someone was hung; everyone seemed content. As long as the accused had a “fair trial” and all of the steps where gone through, not much else seemed to matter.
We have seen this happen more and more in recent years as new scientific techniques have been discovered and introduced that have shown someone that had been conviced truly was innocent.
How do you possibly repay someone for serving years in prison that is later found to be not guilty? More yet, how do you bring back a life once a person has been executed and then later found to have not been guilty?
We live in an unperfect society where people at times do not tell the truth even when in a courtroom as a sworn witness. Some will even come back years later once the person was convicted by their false testimony and even admit that they falsified the facts.
Each point that you made in what you wrote here I think goes to prove these problems and that they do exist everyday.
By weakening the Constitution by a vote of the Justices I think furthers to errode the fairness of an impartial trial.
We desperately want to believe that “they” are acting in our own best interest, or the best interest of every citizen but are they? It seems as though law may have taken a back seat to personal opinion and one has to ask where did that motivation come from if indeed that is the case.
I very much appreciate your comments and thoughts Mr. Feiger as I did on this particular issue that was so important for you to bring up. I admire you for what you stand for and your ability to bring forward important legal issues.
I too am admirer of Mr. Spence and have been for years and appreciated seeing the photos of the two of you together; you would make quite a team.
My apologies; I misspelled your name in my last post.
I don’t think I would trust the Supreme Court Justices to sit on a traffic ticket case. I hear some of their conclusions and if you told the case to 100 people, 99 would probably come to the same conclusion, but these SUPREME
RULERSJUSTICES somehow come up with something completely illogical.
Example – Murphy v UPS, Albertsons Inc. v. Kirkingburg, somehow having 250/160 blood pressure, and being blind in 1 eye didn’t qualify as a “disability” according to their definition. How do 7 out of the 9
geniusesjustices think being blind isn’t disabling?!? They screwed up so bad that Congress actually passed a new law (ADA [Amended 2008]) so those moronsjustices couldn’t screw up again.
They actually made Congress look good! That is an amazing feat in itself.
Clarence Thomas hasn’t uttered 1 oral iota in 5 years on the record! WTF?!?
I think we should send them a prepaid phone and the next time they have an idea they could call someone for some logical advice!