Saturday, December 22, 2007

Dissenting With Dignity

To a casual observer such as myself, it appears that the justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals have taken judicial disagreement to a personal level. A recent concurring opinion expounds on the responsibility of dissenting judges to uphold respect for the judicial process. As to the merits of the dissent at issue:

"It is difficult to respond to my colleague Justice Starcher's dissenting opinion with legal arguments since Justice Starcher identifies no legal support for his dissent.  I would observe that emotion-laden verbiage which could easily be perceived as showing an apparent grudge or personal animosity should never serve as the basis for a separate opinion at the appellate level.               

Because the majority decision possesses such a deep strength of legal authority, I do not believe that either of the dissenting opinions in any way weaken the authority of the Court's decision.  I believe the dissenting opinions lack logical rigor and legal support. By baiting emotions, the dissents adopt a 'political voice' rather than a 'judicial voice.'  Resorts to emotions and sensationalism generally betray the lack of a cogent legal basis for one's criticism."

This concurrence was filed in light of a recent dissent that calls the decision of the majority "morally and legally wrong...morally wrong because it steals more than $60 million dollars from a man who was a victim of a deliberate, illegal scheme to destroy his business"

I'd wager that this court's holiday party did not bring the court's warring factions together in the spirit of the season. (Mike Frisch)

Judicial Ethics and the Courts | Permalink

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