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Thread: Notable & Ignoble Supreme Court rulings

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    Red face Notable & Ignoble Supreme Court rulings

    Texas death penalty case gets Court's review...

    US Supreme Court Poised to Back Texas Death Row Inmate
    October 05, 2016 - The U.S. Supreme Court is considering the case of a black inmate on death row in Texas who contends that racially biased testimony tainted his sentence.
    On Wednesday, the nation’s highest court appeared to side with inmate Duane Buck. Most of the justices expressed concern that Buck’s own defense lawyer, not the prosecutors, introduced the racially charged testimony during his trial. “It would seem more prejudicial when the defendant’s own lawyer brings it up. The jury would probably think, then it must be true,” said Justice Elena Kagan.

    During the sentencing phase of Buck’s trial in 1997, clinical psychologist Walter Quijano, testifying on the likelihood of Buck committing future offenses, said black and Hispanic people are more likely to be dangerous because they are overrepresented among violent offenders. In Texas death penalty trials, one of the special issues jurors must consider when deciding punishment is whether the defendant they’ve convicted would be a future danger.

    Buck’s current lawyers said in court papers that the “alleged link between race and future dangerousness has been proven false.” Buck’s lawyers are not challenging his conviction, but they are seeking another chance to argue that he should not get the death penalty. The only issue in arguments at the high court appeared to be whether to throw out Buck’s sentence altogether and order a new sentencing hearing. The court also could instruct lower courts to decide whether the death sentence can stand.

    Buck, now 53, does not dispute that he shot and killed another man and his ex-girlfriend, Debra Gardner, 32, about a week after breaking up with her in 1995. He also shot his stepsister, who survived. Since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, 1,437 people have been put to death nationwide, with Texas carrying out the most executions at 537. Historically, black inmates have held an outsized place on death row, even though nationally, whites greatly outnumber African Americans.

    http://www.voanews.com/a/us-supreme-...e/3538509.html

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    I'm against the death penalty for the same reason that I'm against abortion. I don't do criminal work Elena, but in the civil sphere you can't invite error.
    Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect. -- Woody Hayes​

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    Peter1469 (10-06-2016)

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    I think that every society has the right to have a death penalty. I think that the US, because of our diversity and the problems associated with it should elect to not have a death penalty.
    Alea iacta est

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    The death penalty is a barbaric practice that will inevitably be declared cruel and unusual by the Supreme Court. It is only a matter of time before it is banned forever.

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    The death penalty shouldn't be outlawed because of barbarism, it should be barred because of the staggering inaccuracy of our justice system.

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    Chris (10-06-2016)

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    Quote Originally Posted by exploited View Post
    The death penalty is a barbaric practice that will inevitably be declared cruel and unusual by the Supreme Court. It is only a matter of time before it is banned forever.
    While I oppose the practice, firmly, I believe that you are wrong on what the SC will do.
    Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect. -- Woody Hayes​

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Xl View Post
    The death penalty shouldn't be outlawed because of barbarism, it should be barred because of the staggering inaccuracy of our justice system.
    That i can agree with. Normally I'm for it, as a deterrent. In China, I heard, they will arrest, convict and execute anyone just to serve as deterrent for society. But, you're right, the justice system is inherently errant and shouldn't decide life and death matters. (Abortion either.)

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    Red face

    What if Trump or Hillary sue over vote count an' SCOTUS can't decide?...

    'Nightmare' - Supreme Court Tying 4-4 on Election Dispute
    November 3, 2016 | WASHINGTON (AP) — What happens if America wakes up on Nov. 9 to another undecided, hotly disputed presidential election? What if the outcome turns on the razor-thin margin in one or two states, one candidate seeking a recount, the other going to court?
    We know what happened in 2000, when the Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote effectively settled the election in favor of George W. Bush. As controversial as that decision was, it was made by a nine-justice court. This time around, there are only eight justices and the possibility of a tie vote. That would leave a lower federal or state court ruling in place, with no definitive judgment from the nation's highest court. "It would be Bush v. Gore, with a twist," said one election law expert, law professor Richard Hasen at the University of California at Irvine. "I call it the nightmare scenario," said University of Kentucky law professor Joshua Douglas.

    Sixteen years ago, the court divided 5 to 4 about whether to get involved at all and then voted the same way to stop Florida's state court-ordered recount. The five more conservative justices sided with Republican nominee Bush, while the four more liberal justices would have ruled for Democrat Al Gore. "A no-brainer!" Justice Anthony Kennedy said in Jan Crawford's book "Supreme Conflict," recalling the decision to take on the case. "A state court deciding a federal constitutional issue about the presidential election? Of course you take the case." The odds of history repeating itself in Florida or elsewhere are long. But it's hard to discount any possibility, however remote, in a tight campaign that already has seen Democratic lawsuits charging voter suppression and Republican claims the election will be rigged.

    The reason a tie Supreme Court vote is even possible stems from another aspect of this unusual election year, the Senate Republicans' refusal to act on President Barack Obama's nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to fill the seat of Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February. Any decision to seek a recount or otherwise contest the election results would depend on the margin in any one state and its potential for affecting the national outcome. In 2000, neither Bush nor Gore could muster an Electoral College majority of 270 votes without Florida. "For candidates who lose by a fraction of a percent, even up to 1.5 percent, they will at least explore their options for seeking a recount or challenging the results in a particular state," said Michael Morley, a law professor at Barry University in Orlando, Florida. Morley represented Republican Joe Miller in his postelection challenge to Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who won re-election as a write-in candidate after losing the GOP primary to Miller in 2010.

    If an initial recount doesn't settle things, a lawsuit could follow, with appeals possible all the way to the Supreme Court. If a case should make it that far, it would reach a court made up of four justices appointed by Republican presidents and four by Democrats. Just four of the eight were on the court for Bush v. Gore, although Chief Justice John Roberts aided Bush's cause as a lawyer in private practice. At this point, it's impossible to know who might go to court and in which state, what the issue might be and who might benefit if justices were evenly divided. A tie is a win for the person who already has prevailed in the lower court. But for some who already are dismayed about the extended Supreme Court vacancy since Justice Scalia's death, a tie would have broad implications beyond the election. "I worry about a 4-4 tie because it would undermine the court's legitimacy," Douglas said.

    MORE

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    Red face

    Texas capital punishment standard up for review... High court to examine mental disability, death penalty issue November 28, 2016 — The U.S. Supreme Court is set to examine whether the nation's busiest state for capital punishment is trying to put to death a convicted killer who's intellectually disabled, which would make him ineligible for execution under the court's current guidance.
    Lawyers for prisoner Bobby James Moore, 57, contend that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state's highest criminal court, ignored current medical standards and required use of outdated standards when it decided Moore isn't mentally disabled. That ruling removed a legal hurdle to Moore's execution for the shotgun slaying of a Houston grocery store clerk in 1980. The Texas court is a "conspicuous outlier" among state courts and "defies both the Constitution and common sense," Clifford Sloan, Moore's lead lawyer, told the justices in written briefs submitted ahead of Tuesday's scheduled oral arguments. Such a "head-in-the-sand approach ... ignores advances in the medical community's understanding and assessment of intellectual disability over the past quarter century," he wrote. Moore's lawyers want his death sentence set aside, contending his punishment would violate the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment and the Supreme Court's 2002 ruling in a North Carolina case that prohibited execution of the mentally disabled. The Texas attorney general's office says the state "fully complies" with Supreme Court precedents. The state points to its use of 1992 clinical definitions for intellectual disability as cited by the high court in its 2002 decision. And the office says it has consulted and considered more recent standards. The question before the high court "rests on a false premise," Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller said, arguing that Moore's claim of intellectual disability is refuted "under any relevant standard." Two years ago, the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional a Florida law that barred any other evidence of intellectual disability if an inmate's IQ was over 70. Texas uses a three-pronged test to define intellectual disability: IQ scores, with 70 generally considered a threshold; an inmate's ability to interact with others and care for him or herself; and whether evidence of deficiencies in either of those areas occurred before age 18. The state says Moore had a troubled childhood with little supervision and scored 57, 77 and 78 on IQ tests before dropping out of school in the ninth grade. He'd been convicted four times of felonies by age 17 but never was diagnosed with an intellectual disability as a youth, the state argues. It describes him as living on the streets, playing pool for money and mowing lawns. During the fatal robbery of 72-year-old Houston supermarket clerk James McCarble, Moore wore a wig and fled to Louisiana afterward, and had represented himself in legal actions, showing the required intellectual capabilities, the state contends. Moore's lawyers argue the state "cherry-picked" specific higher IQ scores, and that at age 13 Moore had no basic understanding of the days of the week or seasons of the year, couldn't tell time and couldn't read or write or keep up in school. Since the Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976, Texas has carried out 537 executions, far more than any other state. Moore arrived on death row in July 1980, and only five of the state's some 250 condemned inmates have been there longer. MORE

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    Red face

    Judge can overrule jury recommending life sentence and impose the death penalty...

    The Latest: Alabama executes man who killed clerk in 1994
    December 9, 2016 — The Latest on the scheduled execution of an Alabama inmate (all times local):
    11:15 p.m.

    A man convicted of killing a convenience store clerk has been put to death in Alabama, hours after the state's execution plans were twice put on temporary hold by the U.S. Supreme Court. Authorities say 45-year-old Ronald Bert Smith Jr. was pronounced dead at 11:05 p.m. CST Thursday after a lethal injection at a southwest Alabama prison. Smith heaved and coughed for 13 minutes during the 30-minute-long execution. He clenched his fists and raised his head during the early part of the procedure. A prison guard performed two consciousness checks before administering the lethal drugs. During the first one, Smith moved his arm. Smith was convicted of capital murder in the fatal shooting of Casey Wilson at a Huntsville convenience store in 1994.

    9:15 p.m.

    The U.S. Supreme Court has again ruled that Alabama can move forward with the execution of an inmate convicted of killing a convenience store clerk more than two decades ago. The Supreme Court ruled late Thursday that the execution could proceed, after issuing two temporary delays earlier in the night. Ronald Bert Smith Jr. is scheduled to receive a lethal injection at 9:45 p.m. CST. Smith was convicted of murder in the 1994 shooting death of Huntsville convenience store clerk Casey Wilson during a robbery. Smith's lawyers had asked the Supreme Court to halt the execution plan to review whether a judge should have been able to override the jury's recommendation and impose the death penalty. The jury had recommended life imprisonment by a 7-5 vote. The state argued the sentence was appropriate and legally sound. The latest decision from the court capped a whirlwind of filings and orders Thursday evening. The execution was originally scheduled for 6 p.m. CST but was delayed twice. Four justices wanted to issue a permanent halt, but five were needed. Smith's attorneys made another application for a stay after the court's latest decision.


    Alabama Department of Corrections shows Ronald Bert Smith Jr.. Smith, who is scheduled to be executed Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016 for the 1994 slaying of Huntsville store clerk Casey Wilson, is asking the governor to stop his execution because a judge imposed a death sentence over the jury's 7-5 recommendation of life imprisonment.

    8 p.m.

    The U.S. Supreme Court has again temporarily halted the planned execution of an Alabama inmate. In Washington, the court issued a second temporary stay late Thursday after attorneys for inmate Ronald Bert Smith, Jr. requested that the justices reconsider an earlier decision to let the execution proceed. Smith, now 45, was convicted of murder in the 1994 shooting death of Huntsville convenience store clerk Casey Wilson during a robbery. Smith's lawyers had asked the Supreme Court to halt the execution plan to review whether a judge should have been able to override the jury's recommendation and impose the death penalty. The jury had recommended life imprisonment by a 7-5 vote. The court narrowly ruled Thursday evening that the execution could proceed, although four liberal justices said they would have voted to grant the stay, according to an order emailed by the court giving no further explanation. Smith's attorneys swiftly asked for a reconsideration

    ____

    7:30 p.m.

    The U.S. Supreme Court has said the planned execution of an Alabama inmate can proceed. The court narrowly ruled Thursday evening that the execution could proceed. Four liberal justices said they would have voted to grant the stay, according to an order emailed by the court giving no further explanation. Forty-five-year-old Ronald Bert Smith Jr. is scheduled to receive a lethal injection Thursday evening. Smith was convicted of murder in the 1994 death of Huntsville convenience store clerk Casey Wilson, who was shot in the head during a robbery. Smith's lawyers had asked the Supreme Court to halt the execution to review whether a judge should have been able to override the jury's recommendation and impose the death penalty. The jury had recommended life imprisonment by a 7-5 vote. Earlier, the Supreme Court had delayed the 6 p.m. CST execution to consider the request. Prison officials said Smith's execution would be carried out later Thursday evening.

    6:15 p.m.

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