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March 12, 2017

Reviewing why a Justice Gorsuch "might be hard to pigeonhole on criminal justice issues"

We are now only a week from the start of confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, and this new extended AP article reviews Judge Gorsuch's record on the cases that I usually give the most attention.  The article is headlined "Gorsuch has ruled for police, and suspects, in crime cases," and here are excerpts:

Judge Neil Gorsuch wasn't convinced that a teenager who made burping sounds in a classroom should be arrested, handcuffed and taken to juvenile detention in a police car. Gorsuch said the 13-year-old student from Albuquerque, New Mexico, should have been able to sue the arresting officer for excessive force. His powerful dissent in the case last year offers a glimpse of how Gorsuch — a favorite among conservatives — might be hard to pigeonhole on criminal justice issues if he is confirmed to the Supreme Court....

During a decade on the federal appeals court in Denver, Gorsuch has raised concerns about intrusive government searches and seizures that he found to violate constitutional rights.  He generally has ruled against defendants appealing their convictions and those who claim they received unfair trials.  But he also has warned in writings and speeches about the danger of having too many criminal laws on the books.

"What happens to individual freedom and equality when the criminal law comes to cover so many facets of daily life that prosecutors can almost choose their targets with impunity?" he said in a 2013 speech.  That skepticism seems to align him with the late Justice Antonin Scalia, a strong believer in protecting people from overzealous police and prosecutors. Scalia at times sided with liberals in tossing out evidence that breached privacy rights and in strengthening the right to confront accusers in court.

Liberal groups are opposing Gorsuch's nomination, in part based on views that his overall record on criminal justice is too harsh.  "At a time when the abuses of our criminal justice system are becoming a national crisis, we cannot confirm a justice who does not understand the role of the Supreme Court to protect the most vulnerable among us," said a report from People for the American Way, a liberal advocacy group.

When Gorsuch has said there are too many criminal laws, he has often focused on business regulations, such as requirements that mattress sellers preserve mattress tags or that lobster importers use cardboard instead of plastic....

Some of his opinions have faulted police for seizing evidence in violation of the Fourth Amendment, which bars unreasonable searches.  In a case last year, Gorsuch parted from the two-judge majority in a ruling that said police had a right to walk onto a man's property to knock on the front door even though there were several "No Trespassing" signs in the yard.  Gorsuch mocked the majority's opinion, saying it gave government agents the right to "invade" a homeowner's property "whatever the homeowner may say or do about it."...

Paul Rothstein, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, said Gorsuch appears to have a mixed record in criminal cases and "seems to call them as he sees them."  "I think his primary area of concern for the citizen is in the privacy of your home or your private belongings," Rothstein said. "He believes there is a private area and he's pretty strong about that."

Gorsuch has been less sympathetic to defendants in other rulings.  In a 2012 case, Gorsuch dissented from a majority opinion in which his colleagues sided with an Oklahoma man seeking to overturn his murder conviction due to an ineffective lawyer.  The lawyer had advised his client to reject a plea agreement that called for a 10-year sentence. Instead, the man went to trial, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

The majority said the lawyer's decision to reject the plea had "disastrous results" for his client.  But Gorsuch said the man's right to effective representation was not violated because he was later convicted in a fair trial.

A few prior related posts on Judge Gorsuch:

March 12, 2017 at 10:05 PM | Permalink


Do you mean these guys and gals?

Prosecutors are the lawyers that have 90% of crime unpunished. They are the lawyers that have the wrong guy 20% of the time, and have made him confess by implanting false memories, and by plea deal bullying. These are the lawyers that have become the Inquisition 2.0 using the same methods and business model to build their Vatican splendors. These are the lawyers using their offices for personal advancement, such as by spending $2 million to prosecute Martha Stewart on a $40,000 insider trading beef, just to get in the lousy papers. These are the lawyers that will destroy any victim who dares to defend himself in an all out attack by a prosecutor client, the violent criminal. These are the lawyers who are at will employees, subject to the orders of the political has been hack running their offices. These are the lawyers that have totally failed to do the main job of government, safety.

Then, these are the lawyers that have dealt themselves legal immunities for their carelessness and deviations from professional standards of due care. Their former prosecutor pals on the Supreme Court have stonewalled any attempt at legal accountability. These standards of due care are enumerated in statute, in the Rules of Conduct, of Evidence, and of Criminal Procedure, and in a long list of common law precedents. Any negligence claim would be a per se claim.

Posted by: David Behar | Mar 13, 2017 12:20:34 AM

Yes, they are the motely crew the article is referenceing. Emphasis added with such glee.

Posted by: MidWestGuy | Mar 13, 2017 9:18:56 AM

Gorsuch. Harvard Law indoctrinated asshole. A big government, rent seeking, worthless, mental cripple, a mortal enemy to all crime victims. Dismissed.

Posted by: David Behar | Mar 16, 2017 3:14:47 AM

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