Get Our Newsletter



Links

Columnists



Site Search


Entire (RSS)
Comments (RSS)

Archive Calendar

November 2019
S M T W T F S
« Oct    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930

Guides

How to Become a Bounty Hunter



Tag: antonin scalia

Parker: Supreme Court Oral Arguments in March, With An Empty Seat On the Bench

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

When counsel approach the lectern in the Supreme Court for oral argument during the rest of the term, instead of facing the blistering questions of the Court’s most aggressive inquisitor, they will instead see an empty chair among the nine on the bench, draped with a black sash. One of the Court’s most active and entertaining interrogators has bedeviled his last lawyer. There will be less laughter in the courtroom.

Justice Antonin Scalia died on February 13, 2016, one month shy of his eightieth birthday. Befitting his colorful life, it was after a day of quail hunting in West Texas. Although the politicians are rumbling about his successor and the conspiracy theorists whispering about the circumstances of his death, it was in all likelihood a peaceful death after an active life of purpose, whether you agree with his brand of conservatism or not.

In criminal cases, he generally supported the government. Along with Justice Thomas, he was unapologetically pro-death penalty, whether the defendant was under-age, mentally retarded, or subject to a botched execution. After all, those were all legal in 1791 when the 8th Amendment was ratified. He also labored to overrule the Warren revolution of cases restricting the police, especially Miranda v. Arizona.

But he could vote for the defendant, too, especially in areas involving jury trial rights and the traditional authority of trial judges. His Booker opinion ended mandatory Sentencing Guidelines. And Apprendi v. Arizona stopped judge-decided facts leading to sentence enhancements. He also was protective against the reach of technology. In Kylio he authored the opinion requiring search warrants for thermal imaging searches. Marijuana grow lights became a bit more private.

Justice Antonin Scalia

Justice Antonin Scalia

Despite his sometimes angry and outrageous vitriol during argument and in his opinions, he was by all accounts well liked by his colleagues on the bench and the staff. He was one of a kind and his death diminishes the energy and vivacity of the institution.

Without Justice Scalia’s contributions, the Court will consider two criminal cases during its March oral arguments. Betterman v. Montana raises one of those issues that you would have thought had already been decided — whether the 6th Amendment guarantee of a speedy trial applies to the sentencing phase. Are defendants protected against inordinate delay in the final disposition of sentence by the 6th Amendment?

The defendant pled guilty to bail jumping after he failed to appear for sentencing on a domestic assault conviction. He explained that he did not have transportation from Butte to the courthouse in Billings. He eventually sobered up enough to turn himself in to the county jail, where he remained for 14 months when he was finally sentenced to 7 years consecutive to his 5 year sentence for assault, with no credit for time served. Don’t go in the wind in Montana after beating up your spouse.

Read more »

Ex-D.C. Homicide Commander Questions the Way Death of Justice Scalia Was Handled

Justice Antonin Scalia

Justice Antonin Scalia

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

When  Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead over the weekend at a west Texas ranch, he reportedly had a pillow over his head.

Now, the conspiracy theories are cropping up.

Sari Horowitz and Lena Sun of the Washington Post report that a former D.C. homicide commander is raising questions about how the death was handled by local and federal authorities.

“As a former homicide commander, I am stunned that no autopsy was ordered for Justice Scalia,” William O. Ritchie, former head of criminal investigations for D.C. police, wrote in a post on Facebook on Sunday.

The Post writes:

Scalia was found dead in his room at a luxury hunting resort in the state’s Big Bend region by the resort’s owner. It took hours for authorities to find a justice of the peace. When they did, Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara pronounced Scalia dead of natural causes without seeing the body — which is permissible under Texas law — and without ordering an autopsy.

On Sunday, the U.S. Marshals Service, which provides security for Supreme Court justices, said that Scalia had declined a security detail while at the ranch, so marshals were not present when he died. When the marshals were notified, deputy marshals from the Western District of Texas went to the scene, the service said in a statement.

Guevara said she declared Scalia dead based on information from law enforcement officials on the scene, who assured her that “there were no signs of foul play.” She also spoke to Scalia’s doctor, who told her that the justice had been to see him Wednesday and Thursday last week for a shoulder injury and that he had ordered an MRI for Scalia, according to WFAA-TV in Dallas. The 79-year-old justice also suffered from several chronic conditions, Guevara said. She said she was awaiting a statement from the physician to complete Scalia’s death certificate.

Ritchie writes:

“You have a Supreme Court Justice who died, not in attendance of a physician. You have a non-homicide trained US Marshal tell the justice of peace that no foul play was observed. You have a justice of the peace pronounce death while not being on the scene and without any medical training opining that the justice died of a heart attack. What medical proof exists of a myocardial Infarction? Why not a cerebral hemorrhage?”

To read full story click here.

Ex-Atty. Gen. Ashcroft Dodges Bullet; Supreme Court Tosses Lawsuit Against Him

John Ashcroft/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Ex-Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft is off the hook.

In an 8-0 ruling, the Supreme Court tossed out a lawsuit against Ashcroft. It overturned a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, saying the former Attorney General under President Bush  enjoyed “qualified immunity” from a lawsuit filed by Abdullah al Kidd, a former University of Idaho football player who converted to Islam.

The court ruled that Ashcroft did not clearly violate the 4th Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures.

FBI agents arrested Kidd in 2003 at Dulles Airport and detained him for 16 days in three different states as a material witness supposedly for a pending case. He was never charged and never called as a witness.

Kidd claimed Ashcroft abused his power by detaining him as a material witness. He also alleged the arrest was part of a bigger plan by the Bush administration to round up Muslims, regardless if whether they had ties to terrorism.

But the Supreme Court, in a ruling written by Justice Antonin Scalia, wrote: “The affidavit accompanying the warrant application (as al-Kidd concedes) gave individualized reasons to believe that he was a material witness and that he would soon disappear.”

“Qualified immunity gives government officials breathing room to make reasonable but mistaken judgments about open legal questions. When properly applied, it protects ‘all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law’,” the court wrote.

”We hold that an objectively reasonable arrest and detention of a material witness pursuant to a validly obtained warrant cannot be challenged as unconstitutional on the basis of allegations that the arresting authority had an improper motive. Because Ashcroft did not violate clearly established law, we need not address the more difficult question whether he enjoys absolute immunity.”

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor voted to overturn the lower court ruling, but conceded that the law in this area is not completely clear. Justice Elena Kagan did not participate.

Read Opinion