Random ramblings of a mind damaged by years of disuse and abuse. Also a place to go to be bored to tears.
The Random Cartoon
Words to live by...
"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."
(The right to looseness has been officially given)
By the way... there's a crossword at the bottom of this page
Thursday, November 3, 2011
I am glad I am not a judge
On October 31st, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision for the third time in a single case.
It's an interesting case and I find myself both agreeing with the majority (6) and with the minority/dissent (3).
Let me provide the background:
"The case involves the conviction of Shirley Ree Smith for allegedly shaking and killing 7-week-old Etzel. At her 1997 trial, jurors heard conflicting testimony about whether the infant died of shaken baby syndrome (SBS) or of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The jury decided that Ms. Smith had caused the death. She was subsequently sentenced to serve 15 years to life in prison." [read more]
In 2006, the 9th Circuit Court reversed the decision of the District Court and ordered Ms Smith freed. The state of California appealed.
As I read through the articles and then the USSC decision, I found myself torn between the law and the emotion involved. I am reasonably sure the Court's majority was also torn. There are multiple tragedies involved: a baby is dead, a grandmother spends ten years in prison and may have to return to serve out the remainder of her sentence, a family is torn apart.
On the legal issues, I have to agree with the decision. On emotional grounds, I side with the defendant. It is not, however, the purpose of the Appeals court to re-try the case and act as both judge and jury and the 9th Circuit Court clearly overstepped its authority. I do not see where the USSC had any other choice. To rule otherwise would turn our legal system on its head and violate the 6th Amendment. On the other hand, my heart goes out to the grandmother and I wonder what I am missing that the original jury saw.
Here are some links which may be useful in understanding the case: