CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"Dear SCOTUS, please reverse my opinion"

From Kent Scheidegger at Crime and Consequences, commenting on this California Supreme Court case, "a capital case in which a juror was excused for cause, ultimately found improper under the Witherspoon-Witt rule."

Is this reversibleper se?  The unanimous opinion of the Court by Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye reluctantly concludes that this result is required by the U.S. Supreme Court's splintered opinion in Gray v. Mississippi, 481 U.S. 648 (1987).

But then the Chief Justice writes a separate petition for certiorari concurring opinion.  It's not terribly unusual in Cal. Supreme for the author of the opinion of the court to write a separate concurrence joined by less than a majority of the court, but this one is joined by a (bare) majority.  She notes Gray's lack of a majority opinion, limiting language in a subsequent case, and dubious policy basis in cases where the defendant ultimately receives a fair trial with an impartial jury.

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