Chief Justice Roberts for the Defense

Great news. In the first opinion issued by the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts, the Court ruled for the defendant in a murder case. Law Prof Doug Berman at Sentencing Law and Policy has the details. Berman quips:

So, when playing the "law nerd" version of Trivial Pursuit, remember that the question "Who prevailed in the first written decision of the Roberts Court?," should be answered "convicted murderer Paul Allen Dye."

The case is Dye v. Hofbauer, No. 04-8384 (S. Ct. Oct. 11, 2005) (available here). More analysis is at Objective Justice.

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  • Re: Chief Justice Roberts for the Defense (none / 0) (#1)
    by Peter G on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:54 PM EST
    For the non-professionals in the TL crowd, this sort of unanimous "per curiam" ("by the whole court") decision -- a mere 3-1/2 pages long, in this instance -- is delivered as what some folks call a "bench-slap" -- the Supremes are saying that it's so obvious the lower court was wrong that a "summary reversal" is in order. The Supreme Court is presented with hundreds of claims per year of this sort of obvious error by lower courts, but only reaches out to correct a tiny number, fewer than half a dozen per year is my impression, kind of like lightning striking your case. It's definitely done to "send a message" to the lower courts -- in this instance, it seems that the message is: if the guy can get into federal court with his constitutional claims ready to hear, just hear 'em. Don't jump somersaults and lie about the record of the case to sweep unfair state court murder convictions under the rug.