July 16, 2010

Footnotes key to court's "dysfunction"

Another take on the "baby mama" sentencing case:
The interesting, but hardly surprising, aspect of this case is that Justices Gableman and Ziegler with their history of allegations of bias and who have used the ambiguity in this area of the law to their advantage, wanted to avoid adding clarity to the area and discuss how to resolve situations involving potential judicial bias. In fact, Justice Gableman could offer no more a rebuttal of the concurrence other than saying in a footnote bluntly and rudely (conduct uncharacteristic of the civility that once was the standard in all judicial decisions), "She is wrong."

I submit this may have been an instance of a defendant breathing a sigh of relief at losing his appeal. He received a fair to middling sentence for selling cocaine and I believe was released from the confinement portion of the sentence some time ago. Had his appeal succeeded, his remedy would have been resentencing, where he would have stood a reasonable chance of getting sent back to jail.

While the appearance of bias claim wasn't without merit — the defendant won his first appeal; that decision was reversed by the Supreme Court — filing the appeal was a mighty close call.

One thing that's always bothered me about this case is that it isn't even clear whether the defendant understood those portions of the judge's sentencing colloquy which later became contentious.

When the judge said (I'm paraphrasing), 'Where do you find these women, is there a club?' the defendant replied, 'She doesn't go to clubs.' But the judge wasn't talking about nightclubs. So what was argued to be among the most disparaging of the sentencing judge's remarks seems to have gone right over the defendant's head.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The bad feelings on the Court began when a dissenting justice said about abrahamson's majority opinion, "surely you jest," and she replied,"Stop calling me Shirley!"