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October 11, 2005

Few clues on capital views of CJ Roberts

This AP report on today's argument in Brown v. Sanders, the first capital case of the new SCOTUS term, suggests that Chief Justice Roberts was an active (and opaque) participant: "The new chief justice, John Roberts, asked a handful of questions during the arguments, seeking to get the attorneys to clarify their positions but not indicating clearly how he was inclined to rule."

The closing paragraphs of the AP story also spotlight some of my major frustrations with the Supreme Court's work in this area.  As revealed by the quotes below, the High Court has a habit taking up cases that seem likely to impact no more than a small number of death sentences and the Court's decisions rarely even clarify precisely what that impact should be:

If the court agrees with the 9th Circuit that Sanders' death sentence should be overturned, death row inmates in California and other states with questions about factors considered in their sentencing could have a new basis for appeals. Kent Scheidegger, director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, said there could be, roughly, dozens of such people nationwide.

Justice Stephen Breyer suggested the court might want to clear up the differences that exist from one state to another in how aggravating factors are used in death penalty sentencing. "We would not have this crossword puzzle that only five people in the United States understand," he said.

October 11, 2005 at 02:08 PM | Permalink


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Mr. Roberts

My name is Juan I. Gonzalez and I have been a Chicago Police Officer for the past six years during that time I have been on the 002 District Tact team, A/1 Gang Team, A/1 saturation team, and currently I am a Field Training Officer. I am a former Sergeant in the United States Marines and while attending UIC I majored in teaching of history. Recently I have signed up for the Sergeants exam for the Chicago Police Department; Lieutenant Arthur Block has recommended your class to prepare for this exam. If you would be willing to take a motivated and diverse individual in your class I would be quite grateful. If possible please send me information if you will be teaching a preparatory course for this exam.
My contact information is cpd99_usmc94@yahoo.com , juan.gonzalez@chicagopolice.org , or (773) 750-3494.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Juan I. Gonzalez

Posted by: Juan I. Gonzalez | Jan 14, 2006 8:30:41 PM

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