First Supreme Court Opinion on the New Term

It’s here, a summary reversal of the Ninth Circuit in a criminal case.  The vote was 6-3, with Justice Kagan joining the majority.

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3 Responses

  1. Jim Maloney says:

    A disturbing decision, for reasons well stated in the dissent. It arises out of a “shaken-baby” homicide conviction that was based solely on medical expert testimony (the prosecution’s, of course) in a 1997 trial, before new medical evidence came to light about the false indicia of skaken-baby syndrome that were then relied upon. Here, it was the baby’s grandmother who was convicted and sentenced to 15 years to life without any evidence of a motive, and in a case in which there was none of the retinal hemorrhaging that occurs in the vast majority of skaken-baby cases. Just a case of SIDS? Very possibly. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt? I don’t think so.

    A ghoulish reversal of fortune handed down on Halloween. This would not bother me so much if it were a work of fiction. But it’s real.

  2. Brett Bellmore says:

    Disturbing in that it’s not so much a reversal, as a re-re-reversal. The Ninth’s contempt for the Supreme court’s authority is showing a bit more clearly than usual here, which is probably why they kept taking the case, over and over.

  3. Jim Maloney says:

    Well, right you are! I did not find that long procedural history in the opinion itself, but a Westlaw check shows that SCOTUS did indeed GVR this case twice in the past (remanding “for further consideration in light of intervening decisions”) before actually taking it head-on this time around. So that explains something about the motive (the Court’s, that is).

    As for the Defendant’s motive, that remains a mystery, as does the question of whether the baby died of SIDS or shaken-baby syndrome. But I do hope she’s guilty, and not a sacrificial lamb to a protracted battle over authority…