ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Monday, May 23, 2005

Idiots in Black Robes

The US Supreme Court again has issued a ridiculous ruling...

What are these people thinking?!?! Didn't they see what happened in Atlanta a couple of months ago?!!?

From the AP via the St Louis Post-Dispatch

Court bans shackling of murder defendants
By Gina Holland
Associated Press

Carman Deck in 1996.
(Pat Hanes)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court, brushing aside warnings by two justices that it was jeopardizing courthouse safety, ruled Monday it is unconstitutional to force capital murder defendants to appear before juries in chains and shackles.

Justices threw out the sentence of Carman Deck, who was shackled in leg irons and handcuffed to a chain around his belly when he faced a Missouri jury that put him on death row.

The court's most conservative members, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, said in a dissent: "The court's decision risks the lives of courtroom personnel, with little corresponding benefits to defendants."

The high court had already held that people on trial could be shackled only if prosecutors had a strong argument for it. Monday's decision involves sentencing hearings in capital murder cases.

Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the majority, said that shackling indicates to juries "that court authorities consider the offender a danger to the community."

"It also almost inevitably affects adversely the jury's perception of the character of the defendant," he wrote.

The decision left room for court personnel to handcuff or chain defendants, but only if they pose a special security risk.

In the dissent, Thomas said the ruling "all but ignores the serious security issues facing our courts."

"The need for security is real. Judges face the possibility that a defendant or his confederates might smuggle a weapon into court and harm those present, or attack with his bare hands," Thomas wrote for himself and Scalia.

Deck was convicted of killing James Long, 69, and his wife, Zelma, 67, near De Soto, Mo., in 1996. He went to the elderly couple's door asking for directions, but once inside shot them both twice in the head and stole about $400.

It's good to know that Breyer doesn't consider someone who kills on a whim for 400 bucks as being "a danger to the community"

And I wonder if Harry Reid will call Scalia & Thomas out of the mainstream for their dissent in this case...


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler