Monday, June 28, 2004

Supreme Court - June 28, 2004

Well, I'm done bitching now. On a positive note, today was an interesting Supreme Court decision day. It gave me something to read while I did nothing at work. It made me happy.

United States v. Patane held that physical evidence taken as a result of an unwarned confession is admissible. Miranda is merely a prophylactic rule, not a Constitutional right, and thus the failure to read those rights is not a per se Constitutional violation.

Missouri v. Seibert held (somewhat narrowly) that if an un-Mirandized confession is given, then the accused is read their Miranda rights, and then a second Mirandized confession is made (probably referring to the first statement, as in this case), neither of the statements are admissible. Souter, writing for the majority, seemed to indicate that if the circumstances under which the two statements are given are sufficiently different (i.e., location, time lapse, etc) then the second statement would be admissible because the average person wouldn't believe that he had incriminated himself enough in the first statement and would feel free to not give a second statement. This case was distinguished from Oregon v. Elstad on the facts. Respectfully, Justice Souter, that's a bunch of hooey.

The Court doesn't know what the hell to do with Miranda; Dickerson seemed to indicate that it was a Constitutional rule, Patane says it's not. However, there is a Constitutional rule in the spirit of Miranda, and damned if anyone's captured that yet. It's more than the "voluntariness" test that O'Connor's still pushing for but less than a steadfast Constitutional requirement.

Then there were the three War on Terror cases that I had alluded to in yesterday's entries.

Hamdi and Rasul held that people can be designated as "enemy combatants" which puts them in this new, heretofore nonexistent legal status, but they have the right to contest that status in court. I think this is an absurd result, because this whole "enemy combatant" thing has created a third class of people - people that are only entitled to the rights that the Executive feels generous enough to give, but who are guaranteed the right to contest this label in court. So, enemy combatants can exist, but the judge gets to decide in the end who deserves the label and who doesn't. Ahem. How the FUCK does a judge decide that? And just because someone is able to file suit doesn't mean that the judge's decision will be fair or logical.

Padilla just states that the Southern District of New York doesn't have jurisdiction because he has to name the individual actually confining him - which apparently, in this case, is some military person (Padilla is being held in a military brig off the coast of Charleston, SC even though he was picked up in NY). What do you think - would NYC or South Carolina be a friendlier jurisdiction to plead for justice?

There was another decision, Holland v. Jackson, that appeared and disappeared on the LII website. Dunno where it went. I'm sure it's on the Supreme Court website though. Too lazy to find it.

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