This month it will be ten years since Justice Clarence Thomas asked a question from the bench during oral arguments. And no, it was not to ask directions to the head. The NY Times has an article on the silence here.
PRYOR SHOWS NO RESTRAINT.
Our colleague who blogs the Miami-Federal scene, the ineffable DOM, has this post about Judge Pryor's dissent in a 2254 case. The more we think about it, the more it bothers us.
Pryor was upset when Judge Jordan and visiting judge Haikala gave a state court petitioner a second federal habeas review. Here is part of what Pryor wrote:
Ace Patterson—a child rapist, kidnapper, and burglar—won the habeas lottery today. The majority gives him a second chance to collaterally attack his convictions in federal court, seventeen years after his trial and nine years after he filed his first federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Most state prisoners are not so lucky, as the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act prohibits the filing of a “second or successive” petition for a writ of habeas corpus. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b).
So the cat is out of the bag.
Apparently if Ace was arrested and convicted for stealing from parking meters (Ala Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke) then Pryor may have joined with the majority.
At least Pryor hasn't shied from how he makes decisions. He looks at the crime, and if it's heinous enough, he decides to deny relief. Kudos for telling the truth, but that is NOT a judge's job. Judges expect jurors to give any defendant a presumption of innocence. Judges expect jurors not to make a finding of guilt merely because the charge is serious.
Under Pryor's analysis he would have summarily denied relief to Richard Jewell who was for a time considered the main suspect in planting a bomb at the Atlanta Olympics, until it turned out he was innocent.
Pryor should not sit on any more criminal cases in the 11th circuit. He has by his own words demonstrated a bias against any defendant convicted of a serious crime. If that is the way the judge feels, so be it. But it disqualifies him from sitting on criminal cases where once he sees the seriousness of the crime he works to find a reason to affirm the conviction (Harmless error anyone?)
"The defendant raises serious errors in his trial. However, based on the heinous nature of his crimes, we deny relief."
Visiting Judge Haikala had this to say in concurrence and she hit the nail on the head:
There is no doubt that the conduct that gave rise to Mr. Patterson’s conviction and sentence is heinous, but that conduct has no bearing
upon the legal standard that governs the issue before the Court. As the United States Supreme Court wrote in Chessman v. Teets: “On many occasions this Court has found it necessary to say that the requirements of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment must be respected, no matter how heinous the crime in question and no matter how guilty an accused may ultimately be found to be after guilt has been established in accordance with the procedure demanded by the Constitution.” 354 U.S. 156, 165 (1957).
Give Judge Pryor props for at least writing what we've all suspected all along.
See You In Court.
WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL RICHARD E GERSTEIN JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG. THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO JUSTICE BUILDING RUMOR, HUMOR, AND A DISCUSSION ABOUT AND BETWEEN THE JUDGES, LAWYERS AND THE DEDICATED SUPPORT STAFF, CLERKS, COURT REPORTERS, AND CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS WHO LABOR IN THE WORLD OF MIAMI'S CRIMINAL JUSTICE. THIS BLOG HAS BEEN CALLED "THE DEFINITIVE BLOG ON MIAMI CRIMINAL LAW" BY THE NY TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, THE POPE, AND DONALD TRUMP WHO ALSO ONCE SAID IT WAS "REALLY GREAT". POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM