posted on Oct, 23 2006 @ 05:51 PM
I'm not a huge fan of the 9th Circuit, but if/when the SCOTUS overturns them on the buttons case, I will consider it an act of laziness. Even DJ
admits that you can't have signs saying convict him in the court room. The buttons can only be interpreted as non-expressive if one completely
disowns the ability to recognize context. Show up at a KKK rally with a button bearing the face of Martin Luther King. Go to the RNC with a Che
Guevara button. Images have clear positive or negative impressions- anyone who has seen a political cartoon or a wedding photo knows this. Images can
constitute different kinds of information and rhetoric in different contexts. Those buttons called for jurors, who must rule on the law, to consider
the case emotionally.
Justice must be blind to such things. No judge would tolerate it if a prosecutor were to repetitiously show the jury the victim's picture for want of
a solid case, yet in this case observers took it upon themselves to repeatedly display emotional imagery. This is worse than if it had been repeatedly
presented by an attorney. Witnesses must be subject to cross-examination. For the family to sit behind the gate, presenting "evidence" without the
opportunity to cross does stack the deck.
Yes, it is ridiculous that a ten year old conviction had to be thrown out because of this, but the 9th is not at fault for that. The blame lies with
the judge who let such prejudicial behavior continue throughout the course of a trial instead of ordering the buttons removed at first sight and
instructing the jurors to ignore any input from outside the court.
Yes, the judicial philosophy of the 9th is not inline with the mainstream of our nation. Judges are appointed through a political process which seeks
to attain political results, and that is exactly what they get in the 9th as in other places. That being said, there are infact cases where justice
gets served. Sweeping changes of law in sentencing can easily be interpreted as political. Rulings in individual cases based on technicalities however
may often be better interpreted as a strict adherence to the rule of law, indifferent of consequences with regard to policy: in other words, doing
exactly what the court is meant to do, as opposed to legislating from the bench.
[edit on 23-10-2006 by The Vagabond]