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November 9, 2004

Considering Justices through the criminal justice lens

I must say I find it a bit unsavory to be talking extensively about Chief Justice Rehnquist's replacement, especially while he is still authoring interesting opinions such as today's ruling in Leocal (which has some interesting mens rea talk and a noteworthy "rule of lenity" footnote).  Nevertheless, since speculating (and even campaigning) about who takes his place seems all the rage (as evidenced here and here and here and here and in every third article linked on How Appealing), I just want to put in a plug for this terrifically interesting post by Ken Lammers at CrimLaw discussing "the qualities, as a defense attorney, [he] would prefer to see in a supreme court nominee."

Especially as we watch courts consider and cope with the Blakely fall-out (and anticipate the voting patterns in Booker and Fanfan and related cases), I found particularly fascinating this quote from Ken's post:

Those who work as a criminal defense lawyers usually come to believe that almost every judge is a judicial activist when it comes to upholding the conviction of a "criminal" or defending the processes of the criminal justice system.

Ken's commentary has a number of other choice moments, including a statement of five important criminal justice principles, building toward this pitch:

I would like to see someone who has actual experience in criminal law elevated to the supreme court. And I don't mean as a judge, a member of some task force, a professor of criminal law dabbling a little on the side, or a federal prosecutor. I mean someone who has had extensive experience in the trenches, trying case after case in a State court where there is little insulation from the people effected by the trial (whether complaining witness or defendant). Where crushing caseloads make you realize what is important and what is not so that you can better value a case.

November 9, 2004 at 01:59 PM | Permalink


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