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October 25, 2007

Are long criminal trials presumptively problematic?

Though not technically a sentencing issue, I cannot help but not some interesting work and words coming today from the Seventh Circuit.  As detailed in this order, the Seventh Circuit has denied a petition for rehearing in the appeal of the conviction of former Illinois Governor George Ryan and his co-defendant.  To that order, Judges Posner, Kanne, and Williams have added a joint opinion dissenting from the denial of rehearing en banc .  This long dissent is a very interesting read that ends this way:

The role of the courts of appeals in protecting jurors and litigants from excessively protracted criminal trials that strain the capacities of jurors, and by doing so undermine procedural justice, merits plenary consideration by this court.

(Because I can't resist a sentencing spin, let me provide my own desired variation on this sentiment in light of the current state of reasonableness review (a sentiment I wish Judge Posner and all other federal circuit judges would embrace): "The role of the courts of appeals in protecting defendants and society from excessively protracted incarceration terms that strain the capacities of prison systems, and by doing so undermine substantive justice, merits repeated consideration by appellate courts.")

October 25, 2007 at 11:14 AM | Permalink


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Though there does appear to have been problems with the jury in this trial, Judge Posner's dissent is notable for its elitism. He and Justice Breyer make quite a pair in their never-ending attempt to paint the peasants as stupid, incapable, and unworthy of any participation in the judicial process. Disgusting.

Posted by: | Oct 25, 2007 4:05:56 PM

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