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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

U.S. Supreme Court: 'Dignity and Respect" ONLY in Death Cases

Nation's Highest Court Justified in Being "Troubled" - Some Federal Circuits are a Corrupted Mess

Supreme Court mandates 'dignity and respect' in death sentencing
The Washington Post by Robert Barnes - January 20, 2010

"From beginning to end," the Supreme Court intoned Tuesday, "judicial proceedings conducted for the purpose of deciding whether a defendant shall be put to death must be conducted with dignity and respect." And so a majority of the court decided that a trial in which jurors presented the judge with an "edible chocolate penis" and the bailiff with a pair of chocolate breasts deserved a closer look. It told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit to examine more closely the trial in which Marcus Wellons received the death penalty for the rape and murder of 15-year-old India Roberts in suburban Atlanta in 1989. The appeals court upheld the death sentence the first time around. "Petitioner's allegations and the unusual facts raise a serious question about the fairness of" the trial, said the unsigned opinion that reflected the views of Justices John Paul Stevens, Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. The "unusual events going on behind the scenes," the court said, included unreported contacts outside the courtroom between the judge and jurors and the fact that "either during or immediately following the penalty phase, some jury members gave the trial judge chocolate shaped as male genitalia and the bailiff chocolate shaped as female breasts." The judge did not report the gifts, and Wellons's lawyers learned about them only when preparing his appeal. "Neither Wellons nor any court has ascertained exactly what went on at this capital trial or what prompted such 'gifts,' " the opinion said. "Wellons has repeatedly tried, in both state and federal court, to find out what occurred, but he has found himself caught in a procedural morass." Georgia's appeals courts did not consider the gifts when Wellons first appealed, because they were not part of the judicial record. Subsequent reexaminations of Wellons's sentence in both state and federal courts have said procedural rules barred their ordering discovery about the gifts. The Supreme Court's opinion criticized the 11th Circuit panel for saying Wellons's claims of misconduct were "speculation." "Had there been discovery or an evidentiary hearing, Wellons may have been able to present more than 'speculation' and 'surmise,' " the opinion said. The court's four most consistent conservatives criticized their colleagues for abusing their own procedures. The majority told the lower court to reconsider the case in light of a recent Supreme Court precedent, but Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas said that should not affect the 11th Circuit's decision. They said it was disrespectful to send the case back because of an "inconsequential imperfection" in the lower court's opinion. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., said he agreed with the majority that the "strange and tasteless gifts" raised "troubling" concerns. But he, too, objected to the "improper" way the majority sent the case back to the 11th Circuit. The case is Wellons v. Hall.

In a separate, unsigned opinion, the court took on another procedure case from Georgia. It ruled that the Sixth Amendment's guarantee to the accused of a "speedy and public trial" meant that the public must be allowed into the part of the trial where potential jurors are questioned. The court had already ruled that the First Amendment meant such procedures should be open. The court repeated that trial judges must consider all alternatives before moving to close a trial. "Trial courts are obligated to take every reasonable measure to accommodate public attendance at criminal trials," the opinion said. In reversing the Georgia Supreme Court, the opinion said the outcome was so apparent from its earlier rulings that it need not accept the case for full briefing and arguments. Thomas and Scalia dissented, saying such sentiment "belittles the efforts of our judicial colleagues who have struggled with these issues in attempting to interpret and apply the same opinions upon which the court so confidently relies today." The case is Presley v. Georgia.


shame on all of us said...

This answers a lot of questions. The biggest of which is that dignity and respect- to fellow humans or the concept of law- within our state and federal courts don't matter anymore.

Anonymous said...

I was the plaintiff in a trial and I wasn't allowed to be present when the jury was picked, told not to show up, was I told they were picking the jury, nope, thought it was cancelled........
that is how they do it in the 8th Judicial District......
Hey Maziarz and Wojtaszek, you know anything about it?
wouldn't that be against the law?

Anonymous said...

I was not even allowed to see the evidence presented in trial.....
no experts, no witnesses, not allowed to pick the jury..
just a trial on lies ,falsified medical records/history.....
and then threatened to sign or I will be sued!!!!!!!!
that is how they do it in the 8th,
Hey Maziarz and Wojtaszek do you know anything about it?

Anonymous said...

So I have to state with all certainty, I concur
The biggest of which is that dignity and respect- to fellow humans or the concept of law- within our state and federal courts don't matter anymore

Anonymous said...

The NY courts are not cognizant of what dignity and respect they purposely destroy their own non-criminally convicted employees...with life threatening abuses.
They force employees, who are now deemed heros for coming forward in this vicious judicial jungle of wild beasts...who felt compelled to address judicial violations of the constitution and the citizens of this state could be treated with respect and dignity...into illegal firings and resignations, that force the signing of statements that state... that these American Judicial Heros..."shall never seek employment with OCA during the rest of their life" the corruption spewing from the remaining employees, can continue unabated!
But only in the courthouse walls are these heros not permitted access(something that would have sufficed 15 yrs ago), but today..... the truth follows all of them into the public forums and employees own internets and blogs!
Cannot stop the flow has attracted way too many followers...who will someday have the courage to see the light,safety and "peace" at work and home... away from your attacks..... by telling on you.

Anonymous said...

Hey Paterson, offer a whistle blowers payoff, anyone who turns in the crud gets money, that is how the corrupt do it, do it back!
Until they sign a proper ethics package and balance the budget, have them arrested!
they will do it to you!
do it back!

Anonymous said...

Hey Paterson, I will turn them in for free!

Anonymous said...

that is the sad part of all of it, how do decent people survive our courts and Senate......
they don't, that is why we are in the state this state is in........

Anonymous said...

What dignity or respect do we get in the courts? NONE! Screw them all!

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See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

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               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
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