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January 20, 2010

"Supreme Court mandates 'dignity and respect' in death sentencing"

The title of this this post is the headline of this Washington Post article yesterday's SCOTUS split decision in Wellons v. Hall (09-5731) (available here).  The headline draws on what I thought was the only notable quotable from the majority's per curiam ruling, and here are excerpts from the story: 

"From beginning to end," the Supreme Court intoned Tuesday, "judicial proceedings conducted for the purpose of deciding whether a defendant shall be put to death must be conducted with dignity and respect."

And so a majority of the court decided that a trial in which jurors presented the judge with an "edible chocolate penis" and the bailiff with a pair of chocolate breasts deserved a closer look.  It told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit to examine more closely the trial in which Marcus Wellons received the death penalty for the rape and murder of 15-year-old India Roberts in suburban Atlanta in 1989.  The appeals court upheld the death sentence the first time around....

The court's four most consistent conservatives criticized their colleagues for abusing their own procedures.  The majority told the lower court to reconsider the case in light of a recent Supreme Court precedent, but Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas said that should not affect the 11th Circuit's decision.  They said it was disrespectful to send the case back because of an "inconsequential imperfection" in the lower court's opinion.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., said he agreed with the majority that the "strange and tasteless gifts" raised "troubling" concerns.  But he, too, objected to the "improper" way the majority sent the case back to the 11th Circuit.

Though some may fault the Post headline for suggesting an anti-death-penalty bias, I fault it for missing the opportunity for some bawdy headline humor in a case involving an "edible chocolate penis."  Here are a few possible alternative headlines that perhaps The Onion might consider: "Supreme Court gets hard on circuit based on its handling of chocolate penis" or  "Justices see boner in lower court ruling involving chocolate penis" or "Justices battle over how best to massage chocolate penis case error."

Readers are, of course, highly encouraged to suggest their own bawdy headlines, with extra points going to anyone also working the chocolate breasts.  But, of course, all potential headline writers should stay considerate of the "dignity and respect" mandate from SCOTUS.

January 20, 2010 at 09:23 AM | Permalink

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Comments

Watching the Supremes cook --The food channel on court tv allows you to stay abreast of the Supreme Court's culinary examination of an edible penis.

Posted by: k | Jan 20, 2010 9:55:23 AM

Justices erect chocolate obstacle to death penalty for Georgia inmate; majority gropes jury's mammary gifts, dissent too flacid to sway Justice Kennedy.

Posted by: ALB | Jan 20, 2010 10:27:10 AM

Was the jury sequestered? If so where did they get their chocolates? Who picked the penis--the males on the jury or the females or both? Did they vote on penis selection? Same re the breasts--did they vote? Did they vote on the death penalty or merely roll over for the penis juror?

Where there any issues in the case involving sex? Sub-issues involving private parts? Sub-issues involving not so private parts? Did the defendant have a big one? A brown one? Did the victim have big ones? All of these questions might be indicative of a jury that made fun of both defendant and victim or perhaps had racial animosity to one or both.
If the defendant and victims were white they could have chosen vanilla chocolate.

Somehow it seems that race might be a factor here.

Posted by: mpb | Jan 21, 2010 8:59:41 AM

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TROY DAVIS & MUMIA ABU-JAMAL PLEASE REMEMBER ~ JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF ALSO HAD 2 DEAL WITH ......

OUR U.S.CONGRESS HAS DOCUMENTED OUR UNJUST AMERICAN JUDICIAL SYSTEM AND WE STILL HAVE CERTAIN AMERICANS EVEN TODAY WANTING TO RUN THE RISK OF EXECUTING EVEN POSSIBLE INNOCENT CITIZENS RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE REST OF US IN THE NAME OF THEIR SO CALLED JUSTICE.

GOD DOES NOT HAVE MANDATE WITH U.S. SUPREME COURT 2 CONTINUE ALLOWING POSSIBLE WRONGFUL EXECUTIONS TO BE INFLICTED ON OUR AMERICAN POOR !!!

**TROY DAVIS & MUMIA ABU ~JAMAL ~ ARE HAVING PRAYERS FOR JUSTICE SAID FOR THEM WORLD~WIDE ..WE CAN ALL ONLY HOPE AND PRAY THAT EVERYONE IN OUR U.S.CONGRESS THAT KNOWS AND UNDERSTANDS HOW UNJUST OUR U.S JUDICIAL SYSTEM CAN BE WITH OUR POORER AMERICANS,BECOMES ACTIVE IN MAKING SURE THAT TROY DAVIS OF GEORGIA AND MUMIA ABU~JAMAL OF PENNSYLVANIA RECEIVE FAIR AND JUST TRIALS BEFORE ANY POSSIBLE WRONGFUL EXECUTIONS TAKE PLACE.
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Posted by: LAWYERS FOR POOR AMERICANS | Feb 24, 2010 6:54:20 PM

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