Another Important Supreme Court Ruling

Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled as it often has in the past on a death penalty case. In this case it was a death row inmate whose lawyers had essentially abandoned him during the appeals process. NPR gives a good overview of the case:

The U.S. Supreme Court has given an Alabama death row inmate another chance to fight his execution. By a 7-to-2 vote, the court ruled Wednesday that convicted murderer Cory Maples, “through no fault of his own,” was denied the right to appeal because he was abandoned by his lawyers.

Though I strongly support the death penalty, I think it is critical that those who face it get every opportunity to have competent representation and the full range of appeals available by law. I don’t in fact know how someone who supports the death penalty could think otherwise unless they are just completely indifferent to the lives of other human beings. My concern though is not merely a procedural one, but a personal one. As someone who worked on death penalty appeal that went to the Supreme Court (STATE of Louisiana vs. John L. SULLIVAN), I know that the system occasionally fails to deliver justice to defendants.

In what may be a unique occurrence, I particularly agree with Justice Ginsburg’s argument in this case:

The sole question this Court has taken up for review is whether, on the extraordinary facts of Maples’ case, there is “cause” to excuse the default. Maples maintains that there is, for the lawyers he believed to be vigilantly representing him had abandoned the case without leave of court, without informing Maples they could no longer represent him, and without securing any recorded substitution of counsel. We agree. Abandoned by counsel, Maples was left unrepresented at a critical time for his state post conviction petition, and he lacked a clue of any need to protect himself pro se. In these circumstances, no just system would lay the default at Maples’ death-cell door.

The death penalty has an important purpose in a just society, even with the human pitfalls and limitations our judicial system presents. But when the court focuses merely on technicalities and procedure, it can miss justice.

And that would be a tragedy by any measure.

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2 Responses to Another Important Supreme Court Ruling

  1. Honest Person says:

    Unrelated, but I just read your comment found here: http://forthesakeofscience.com/2010/02/27/deuteronomy-is-just-weird/
    and I must say I was surprised at your lack of intellectual honesty by purposefully attacking the person instead of addressing the obvious points, albeit a bit tongue in cheek. I mean really, only a complete moron wouldn’t have been able to discern the person wasn’t literally saying penis in vagina = bad, and I’m not in the mood to placate your intellectual dishonesty further and enplane why this is so. I write this to you today because I want yo to know that everyone who read your comment realizes you have no time for objectivity when it doesn’t suit your preconceived notions. You are, or at least you have illustrated to us, a typical Christian, or, I can go further and say a typical person of any religious faith, because just like you I’ve seen it all too often where a religious person pretends not to understand what was actually meant so they can avoid the issue and play make believe in Moronland. Well, it’s not honorable and just plan silly. As for the argument the person was making it would have been nice of you to at least address the second part, you know, the part about penis in vagina while not married = death part? Yeah, the part where you could not take it out of context and molest the meaning to fit your small mindedness? Why am I not surprised you completely ignored that part? Oh, yeah, that’s right, it’s because3 you completely ignored the truth of the meaning of the first part. Not surprised, not in one bit.

    I don’t know you, maybe you’re a super fantastic person, but I do know you lie on message boards and use insults instead of addressing the truth. Addressing the truth would have required you to face the fact that “be fruitful and multiply” is not “be fruitful and multiply as long as you’re married, otherwise I command your neighbors to stone you to death.”

    You’re a small minded man, you like to keep things that conflict your logic with your beliefs, that’s fine, most people are this way and they live happy lives all the same. That doesn’t change reality, however, and it’s you who have to live with the fact of knowing you prefer to lie, albeit not boldly, but ignoring something you know not to be the issue is a lie all the same, rather than addressing the argument honestly. Now, which course of action do you believe Jesus would have taken?

    One more thing I should have mentioned earlier, even your first part about the conservation and the sparrows bit was a lie, we both, or I should say we all, including God, know damn well that the writer was making the point that it’s odd that of all the important facts of conservation an all powerful god might wish to make, that He would chose some BS about bird eggs. I mean really, WTF? Who wouldn’t find that completely random and very odd to ever be mentioned. I mean God could have said whatever He wanted to say, such as instructing us on how to make renewable energy, or something about preventing food famines, but now, He chose to instruct us all on when to and when not to take birds eggs from a nest. But, you in your purposeful ignorance chose to misconstrue the meaning yet once again. What a pitiful ignorant person you are, I feel sorry for you actually.

    Fake email, not bothering with you anymore, too much times wasted already, and you’re welcome for the time I spent teaching you what others think of your “act.”

  2. jackhudson says:

    I am not sure why you are responding here to a two year old post on someone else’s blog that has absolutely nothing to do with anything in this post?

    Though I do find it humorous that you would accuse me of “purposefully attacking the person instead of addressing the obvious points” by calling me a liar and not addressing any point in this post whatsoever.

    Nonetheless, thanks for commenting.

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