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Scalia: A Laff Riot

6:00 PM -- A recent in-depth analysis of Supreme Court transcripts – that is, some law professor dude counting the "laughs" after "quips" from the grim-facèd nine – found that Antonin Scalia is far and away the funniest of the justices.

In fact, according to this rigorous methodology, Scalia is exactly 19.25 times more uproarious than Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He's also infinity times funnier than Clarence Thomas, who can't draw a single guffaw from the chamber – which has gotta be a pretty easy crowd, as expectations are low.

To be fair, Thomas's hands are tied: He can't use his really dynamite "Long Dong Silver" material, which is generally considered "Too Hot for C-Span." And the study didn't cover his behind-the-scenes hijinks, like leaving hairs on Sandra Day O'Connor's can of Mr. Pibb. That one really cracked up Souter.

But what makes Scalia so hilarious, anyway? Must be gems like this:

Mere factual innocence is no reason not to carry out a death sentence properly reached.


HAAHAAAhahahahhahahaaa! You kill me, Antonin!

— Red Panda, Black Comedian, Light Reading

dljvjbsl 12/5/2012 | 4:09:58 AM
re: Scalia: A Laff Riot Justice Scalia's actual words:

...We granted certiorari on the question whether it violates due process or constitutes cruel and unusual punishment for a State to execute a person who, having been convicted of murder after a full and fair trial, later alleges that newly discovered evidence shows him to be "actually innocent." I would have preferred to decide that question, particularly since, as the Court's discussion shows, it is perfectly clear what the answer is: there is no basis in text, tradition, or even in contemporary practice (if that were enough) for finding in the [506 U.S. 390, 428] Constitution a right to demand judicial consideration of newly discovered evidence of innocence brought forward after conviction. ...

Later he nmakes the point that in such a case an executive pardon could prevent the executition so the issue should have no practical effect.

...With any luck, we shall avoid ever having to face this embarrassing question again, since it is improbable that evidence of innocence as convincing as today's opinion requires would fail to produce an executive pardon. ...






dljvjbsl 12/5/2012 | 4:09:58 AM
re: Scalia: A Laff Riot As with the issue of global warming and hurricanes, it is best to research the issue before one expounds on dearly held beliefs. The Supreme Court issued a reasoned decision based on law and not on rhetoric. The issue of what 'innocence' means in the case of someone found guilty in a fair trial is not a simple one.

The issue that the court was concerned with is the issue of a fair trial for the stateas well as teh accused. If someone can claim new evidence has arisen after many years, how can the state retry him/her. Evidence will have been lost, the memory of witnesses will have faded and some may have died. The judicial process functions to protoect society as well as the accused.

From the Wikipedia article on Herrera v. Collins:

Justice Scalia, in his concurring opinion, disagreed: "[The majority opinion makes] perfectly clear what the answer is: there is no basis in text, tradition, or even in contemporary practice (if that were enough) for finding in the Constitution a right" not to be executed by the State even if provably innocent of any crime.


Justice O'Connor disagreed with this but makes the case that someone who has been found guilty is not constitutionally entitled to a new trial if there was no contitutional issue with their original trial even if they are provably innocent.

Consequently, the issue before us is not whether a State can execute the innocent. It is, as the Court notes, whether a fairly convicted and therefore legally guilty person is constitutionally entitled to yet another judicial proceeding in which to adjudicate his guilt anew, 10 years after conviction, notwithstanding his failure to demonstrate that constitutional error infected his trial.

So both agree that the execution should go ahead, it is really about the queation of just what constitutes whether someone is 'innocent' ir 'guilty.' Justice O'Connor takes a legam meaning. Someone who has been found guilty is guilty. Justice Scalia assertion is that someone who has been found guilty may in reality be innocent.

However both agree that the constitution does not require that tehre be no chance of error fro an execution to go ahead. The chance of error has to be below the constitutional requirement of reasonable doubt.

Justice Rehnquist, who wrote the majority opinion, noted that in the case of actual innocence, the option of clemency exists. So the question of execution may be resoved by other means.





<http: en.wikipedia.org="" herrera_v._collins="" wiki="">

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CoolLightGeek 12/5/2012 | 4:09:58 AM
re: Scalia: A Laff Riot Panda,
So prove your journalist morals and quote the audience (date and place) in which Scalia supposedly made these comments.

I could not find the citation using Google.

But I did find:

http://www.federalreview.com/2...

MALIGNING SCALIA - THE PHANTOM QUOTE
The Internet has proven itself to be a wonderful medium for propagating information and, as a result, it's pretty damn good at spreading lies. A particular lie, or to be generous, unsourced and uproven quotation, has been attributed to Justice Antonin Scalia. Now, Justice Scalia is not one to sugar coat (or sugar quote) things and he doesn't mind saying and writing the controversial. So, when I saw the following quote attributed to him, on a site of a lawyer I generally trust but disagree with, and that quotation included a cite to a Supreme Court case, I figured it must be an accurate quote.
"Mere factual innocence is no reason not to carry out a death sentence properly reached." --U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Herrera v. Collins, 506 US 390 (1993).
Oh my, there's a blockbuster of a quote. My initial inclination was to wonder what side of the bed Nino woke up on that morning or what the context could possibly be. Knowing Scalia, I assumed he meant nothing in the Constitution would prevent your execution if you were truly innocent but a court complying with the requirements of due process found you guilty and sentenced you to death. Surely, Scalia understands that just because something is wrong, unjust or simply shouldn't be, it does not follow that the Constitution provides a remedy. After all, the Constitution is merely an allocation of powers from the people to the federal government, complete with some further limitations on the powers of governments. But the instructions for Utopia, it is not.

So, what did Scalia really mean? Helpfully, a citation to the appropriate Supreme Court case was provided. So, I figured I'd better read what Scalia wrote. Surely, he must have preceded the quote with some context that might make clear that his meaning isn't that it is morally OK to execute the innocent. But he didn't.

In fact, he never wrote that sentence. And there is no evidence he ever said it.

It's made up.

It's fake.

It's bull****.

But that's OK in this day and age. What's the problem with a little dishonesty and character assassination in the name of political partisanship? So what if a lawyer propagates the fake quotation while citing a case without checking to see if the quote is correct. I'm sure this goes on all the time in briefs presented before the Supreme Court. And to be fair, I can certainly understand posting a quote that you have been familiar with for sometime without nailing down the source in an effort to spark discussion. But you really ought to check out your citation.

Certainly, they may now say that it doesn't matter that the quote is not true, but that quotation speaks the truth about what kind of person Scalia is. Or maybe it is true, "Scalia has never denied making this statement in a speech delivered shortly after the decision." Oh, and have you stopped beating your wife?

You can search it out. The best you'll find is people saying, well, I'm sure he said it in a speech somewhere not long after the Herrera case. But if he did, I can't find any evidence of it.

Neither could a law librarian at UC-Davis. She asked for a source. Her only answer was from someone who, stunned by the comment, looked it up. He said ""I found this quote of Justice Scalia's to be so appalling, that I felt compelled to do some research on it. To date, despite extensive searches on AltaVista, All The Web, Northern Light, Surfwax and other search engines, I have been unable to pin down the date or circumstances of the quote."

Yet so many others failed to do be so appalled that they had to see for themselves. What ever happened to intellectual curiousity? Not about finding a source, but about what the context of the quote was?

Those failing to look up the case they cite as the source of the quote include Dave's Favorite Quotations, Stinging-Nettle and B.J. Honeycutt himself, Mike Farrell. Then there were those who didn't mind repeating it with no attribution, so sure they were that it must be true. Or so sure they were that it just proved what must be true about that damn conservative. Fine sources like DU, a Quotation site called Think Exist, Paul's Justice Page (see the irony?) and others. 1, 2, 3 (the last actually admits to having no proof it was said).

It does turn up, attributed (in a way), to someone else. A guy named Zolo Agona Azania, who appears to be in the pokey in Indiana. In a few places (1, 2, 3), you can find he may have authored the following quote:
The law court judges hold that mere factual innocence is no reason not to carry out a death sentence properly reached. All that US law requires is a fair trial, not a perfect one.
Maybe Zolo found it on the internet, but in a fit of fairness, decided not to attribute it to Justice Scalia since he couldn't find any evidence he ever said it.

And evidence is really what it comes down to. Especially when you are talking fairness and justice. The Constitution provides that you can't be deprived of liberty (jail) or life (lethal injection) without due process of law. And in Herrera v. Collins, Scalia does say that there is no Constitutional right of a convicted murderer to get back into court just because he "later alleges that newly discovered evidence shows him to be 'actually innocent.' "

...
dljvjbsl 12/5/2012 | 4:09:57 AM
re: Scalia: A Laff Riot Here is my contribution without the many typos

As with the issue of global warming and hurricanes, it is best to research the issue before one expounds on dearly held beliefs. The Supreme Court issued a reasoned decision based on law and not on rhetoric. The issue of what innocence means in the case of someone found guilty in a fair trial is not a simple one.

The issue that the court was concerned with is the issue of a fair trial for the state as well as the accused. If someone can claim new evidence has arisen after many years, how can the state retry him/her. Evidence will have been lost, the memory of witnesses will have faded and some may have died. The judicial process functions to protect society as well as the accused.

From the Wikipedia article on Herrera v. Collins:

Justice Scalia, in his concurring opinion, disagreed:

"[The majority opinion makes] perfectly clear what the answer is: there is no basis in text, tradition, or even in contemporary practice (if that were enough) for finding in the Constitution a right" not to be executed by the State even if provably innocent of any crime.


Justice O'Connor disagreed with this but makes the case that someone who has been found guilty is not constitutionally entitled to a new trial if there was no constitutional issue with their original trial even if they are provably innocent.

Consequently, the issue before us is not whether a State can execute the innocent. It is, as the Court notes, whether a fairly convicted and therefore legally guilty person is constitutionally entitled to yet another judicial proceeding in which to adjudicate his guilt anew, 10 years after conviction, notwithstanding his failure to demonstrate that constitutional error infected his trial.

So both agree that the execution should go ahead, it is really about the question of just what constitutes whether someone is 'innocent' ir 'guilty.' Justice O'Connor takes a legal meaning. Someone who has been found guilty is guilty. Justice Scalia assertion is that someone who has been found guilty may in reality be innocent.

However both agree that the constitution does not require that there be no chance of error for an execution to go ahead. The chance of error has to be below the constitutional requirement of reasonable doubt.

Justice Rehnquist, who wrote the majority opinion, noted that in the case of actual innocence, the option of clemency exists. So the question of execution may be resolved by other means.
CoolLightGeek 12/5/2012 | 4:09:42 AM
re: Scalia: A Laff Riot Hello. Hello.

Can you identify your source for your "quote" yet?

Are you hoping to get past this blog entry without having to respond?

In the future, are you willing to continue to post information as truth just because it can be found on the web and matches your political bias?

Don't you at least want to pretend that you filter the mud before you sling it?

(Here's where you are supposed to say your typical journalistic process would normally catch this oversight on your part and you deeply regret representing something to your readers as truth that you have no means of validating as truth... You can probably plagiarize some appropriate quotes from Dan Rather for this).


Cool "Fun Ruiner" Light Geek
burn0050 12/5/2012 | 4:08:58 AM
re: Scalia: A Laff Riot Here is the actual written opinion from Scalia on this case (from the judicial opinion found at: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/... )


JUSTICE SCALIA, with whom JUSTICE THOMAS joins, concurring.

We granted certiorari on the question whether it violates due process or constitutes cruel and unusual punishment for a State to execute a person who, having been convicted of murder after a full and fair trial, later alleges that newly discovered evidence shows him to be "actually innocent." I would have preferred to decide that question, particularly since, as the Court's discussion shows, it is perfectly clear what the answer is: there is no basis in text, tradition, or even in contemporary practice (if that were enough) for finding in the [506 U.S. 390, 428] Constitution a right to demand judicial consideration of newly discovered evidence of innocence brought forward after conviction. In saying that such a right exists, the dissenters apply nothing but their personal opinions to invalidate the rules of more than two thirds of the States, and a Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure for which this Court itself is responsible. If the system that has been in place for 200 years (and remains widely approved) "shock[s]" the dissenters' consciences, post, at 430, perhaps they should doubt the calibration of their consciences, or, better still, the usefulness of "conscience shocking" as a legal test.

I nonetheless join the entirety of the Court's opinion, including the final portion, ante, at 417-419 - because there is no legal error in deciding a case by assuming, arguendo, that an asserted constitutional right exists, and because I can understand, or at least am accustomed to, the reluctance of the present Court to admit publicly that Our Perfect Constitution * lets stand any injustice, much less the execution of an innocent man who has received, though to no avail, all the process that our society has traditionally deemed adequate. With any luck, we shall avoid ever having to face this embarrassing question again, since it is improbable that evidence of innocence as convincing as today's opinion requires would fail to produce an executive pardon.

My concern is that, in making life easier for ourselves, we not appear to make it harder for the lower federal courts, imposing upon them the burden of regularly analyzing newly-discovered-evidence-of-innocence claims in capital cases (in which event, such federal claims, it can confidently be predicted, will become routine and even repetitive). A number of Courts of Appeals have hitherto held, largely in [506 U.S. 390, 429] reliance on our unelaborated statement in Townsend v. Sain, 372 U.S. 293, 317 (1963), that newly discovered evidence relevant only to a state prisoner's guilt or innocence is not a basis for federal habeas corpus relief. See, e.g., Boyd v. Puckett, 905 F.2d 895, 896-897 (CA5), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 988 (1990); Stockton v. Virginia, 852 F.2d 740, 749 (CA4 1988), cert. denied, 489 U.S. 1071 (1989); Swindle v. Davis, 846 F.2d 706, 707 (CA11 1988) (per curiam); Byrd v. Armontrout, 880 F.2d 1, 8 (CA8 1989), cert. denied, 494 U.S. 1019 (1990); Burks v. Egeler, 512 F.2d 221, 230 (CA6), cert. denied, 423 U.S. 937 (1975). I do not understand it to be the import of today's decision that those holdings are to be replaced with a strange regime that assumes permanently, though only "arguendo," that a constitutional right exists, and expends substantial judicial resources on that assumption. The Court's extensive and scholarly discussion of the question presented in the present case does nothing but support our statement in Townsend and strengthen the validity of the holdings based upon it.

[ Footnote * ] My reference is to an article by Professor Monaghan, which discusses the unhappy truth that not every problem was meant to be solved by the United States Constitution, nor can be. See Monaghan, Our Perfect Constitution, 56 N.Y.U.L.Rev. 353 (1981).
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