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June 26, 2009

Some great SCOTUS crim law commentary around the blogosphere

I have seen lots and lots of good posts from the usual good crim law bloggers in response to some of the recent SCOTUS crim law action.  Here are just a few of the many posts worth checking out:

  • From Grits here, "Real splits on criminal justice not liberal-conservative"

  • From Prawfs here, "Thoughts on Yeager: Role of Appellate Judges, Special Verdicts, and the Meaning of a Hung Jury"

  • From SCOTUSblog here, "Law need not bow to chemistry"

  • From Volokh here, "Crime Severity and Constitutional Line-Drawing"

June 26, 2009 at 11:12 AM | Permalink

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There are only 2 or 3 SC cases that mention science, Brown v Bd Ed, where the greatest SC advocate, Thurgood Marshall, used data, and Mass v EPA. There was a case, where the law did not have to conform with science from 1913 or thereabouts.

That is the past. All law is human experimentation. All law must be pilot tested in small jurisdictions, and proven safe and effective. Without testing, the law violates treaties on human experimentation, and procedural due process rights to notice and a fair hearing. It is high time to end the predominance of Medieval garbage orthodoxy, and to join the law to the rest of human progress.

So let defense lawyers question the validity of scientific testing, but using arguments only in scientific methodology.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 26, 2009 4:48:27 PM

Good thoughtful point by Supremecy Clause bove. I have looked back at the injuries inflicted on crimnal defendants by scientific procedures in the past fifty years and marvel at our acceptance of some of the jibberish. I spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours in a case about ten years ago running down the trail of evidence in a bullet comparison test. There was an FBI lab expert who employed some sort of nuclear device which had capabilities which awed mankind to no end. The percentage of lead vs tin and other elements in a given bullet were measured and then the same was done to another bullet. One bullet from the victim and one from the gun found on the defendant for example. Each batch of Smith and Wesson bullets have a "pour". The 'science' went on and on. Lately I heard that the whole thing was thrown into doubt. Hair examination has come into disrepute. DNA has its doubters, me being one of them. Lab people and scientists are more akin to preachers than any other occupation. Woe to those who have faith.

There is a new case out this past week from SCOTUS called Melendez-Diaz v. Mass. The definition of what is 'testimonial'--what is a 'testimonial statement' --receives some clarification and it is quite simple. Did the author of the lab report, or portion thereof, make a statement in a document under circumstances which would lead an objective witness reasonably to believe that the statement would be available for use at a later trial. Or some words to that effect. That declarant has to be brought to trial so I can look him in the eye and ask him where the hell he get the notion that his nuclear contraption can measure lead to tin content and deduce that my bullet was a match for the one in the dead body.

The world at large, and lawyers in particular, should beware of those who speak latin or awe us with other jibberish with 'reasonable degrees of scientific certainty' ascribed thereto.

Posted by: mpb | Jun 28, 2009 5:24:48 AM

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