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)

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Judicial Ethics and the Courts | Permalink

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