With the Supreme Court decisions coming out fast and furious over the past few days, I’m making a foray into legal commentary for a moment. Though the decisions about the child rape/death penalty case and Exxon damages made the front page, I was more taken with the fact that the domestic violence case was sent back to the courts, meaning essentially that because murderers can’t confront the victims of their crimes (because, um, they’re dead) they are protected under the sixth amendment. The Post makes this clearer than I can:
The case revolved around the Sixth Amendment, which affords people the bedrock right to confront and cross-examine witnesses who give testimony against them. At issue is whether defendants forfeit their confrontation rights by doing harm to people whose statements are introduced in judicial proceedings.
In the case before the courts, the defendant was convicted of shooting his girlfriend six times; he claims he did so in self-defense and with his eyes closed. At issue is the fact that his girlfriend had called the police weeks earlier to report a domestic violence attack, and this statement was used in the trial. The defendant’s lawyers now want it thrown out. And so it was. Scalia, writing the decision, overturned the conviction and sent it back to the lower courts. Which means terrible things for domestic violence victims:
Activists who decry more than 1,500 deaths and 2 million injuries each year stemming from domestic violence expressed disappointment in the opinion. Officials at the Family Violence Prevention Fund warned the decision could make it less likely that victims will reach out to authorities for help. In many such cases, they said, the victim is the lone witness to a crime
Pedaling our country backward. Thanks Scalia!
In lighter legal news, a lawyer friend passed along this item out of Connecticut. A mother sued the Norwalk Aquarium because her son stepped in dog poop near a parking garage. You have to love the response from the city attorney:
She claimed that his shoes, and their entire outing, “were ruined when he encountered the feces and then had to be bathed.” Norwalk city attorney Jeffrey Spahr responded: “The official response of the city is that her claim is denied and poop happens. I’m also having a tough time picturing why the child had to be bathed after stepping in this unless he thought it was some kind of poop sandbox.”
Image: Sandbox sans poop, via amazon.com