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The High Court Remains As Divided As Ever Over The Death Penalty, George H. Kendall Jan 2006

The High Court Remains As Divided As Ever Over The Death Penalty, George H. Kendall

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

More than three decades ago, in Furman v. Georgia, a sharply divided Supreme Court struck down all existing capital punishment schemes be-cause the results they generated were arbitrary, discriminatory, and unreasoned. No member of that Court remains on the Court today, and the Court has grown increasingly conservative ever since. Nevertheless, impor-tant questions concerning the administration of capital punishment continue to wrought deep divisions within the Court, for instance in determining whether racial bias influences the system, in determining the sufficiency of new evidence of innocence to justify review of a defaulted claim in habeas corpus proceedings, in determining a ...


Legitimizing Error, Rebecca E. Woodman Jan 2006

Legitimizing Error, Rebecca E. Woodman

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

Since Furman v. Georgia, the Supreme Court has sought to harmonize competing constitutional demands under Eighth Amendment rules regulat-ing the two-step eligibility and selection stages of the capital decision-making process. Furman’s demand for rationality and consistency requires that, at the eligibility stage, the sentencer’s discretion be limited and guided by clear and objective fact-based standards that rationally narrow the class of death-eligible defendants. The selection stage requires a determination of whether a specific death-eligible defendant actually deserves that punish-ment, as distinguished from other death-eligible defendants. Here, fundamental fairness and respect for the uniqueness of the individual are the ...


Still "Left In The Dark": The Confrontation Clause And Child Abuse Cases After Davis V. Washington, Anthony J. Franze, Jacob E. Smiles Jan 2006

Still "Left In The Dark": The Confrontation Clause And Child Abuse Cases After Davis V. Washington, Anthony J. Franze, Jacob E. Smiles

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

In his concurring opinion in Crawford v. Washington, Chief Justice Rehnquist criticized the majority for holding that the Confrontation Clause applies to “testimonial” statements but leaving for “another day” any effort to define sufficiently what “testimonial” means. Prosecutors and defendants, he said, “should not be left in the dark in this manner.” Over the next two years, both sides grappled with the meaning of testimonial, each gleaning import from sections of Crawford that seemingly proved their test was the right one. When the Court granted certiorari in Davis v. Washington and Hammon v. Indiana (hereinafter Davis), hopes were high that ...


The Revolution Enters The Court: The Constitutional Significance Of Wrongful Convictions In Contemporary Constitutional Regulation Of The Death Penalty, Jordan Steiker Jan 2006

The Revolution Enters The Court: The Constitutional Significance Of Wrongful Convictions In Contemporary Constitutional Regulation Of The Death Penalty, Jordan Steiker

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

Over the last decade, the most important events in American death pen-alty law have occurred outside the courts. The discovery of numerous wrongfully convicted death-sentenced inmates in Illinois led to the most substantial reflection on the American death penalty system since the late 1960s and early 1970s. Former Illinois Governor George Ryan, a Republi-can, first declared a moratorium on executions in 2000 and eventually commuted all 167 inmates on Illinois’s death row in 2003. The events in Illinois reverberated nationwide. Almost overnight, state legislative agendas shifted from expanding or maintaining the prevailing reach of the death penalty to studying ...


Stevens's Ratchet: When The Court Should Decide Not To Decide, Joel A. Flaxman Jan 2006

Stevens's Ratchet: When The Court Should Decide Not To Decide, Joel A. Flaxman

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

Hidden underneath the racy death penalty issues in Kansas v. Marsh lurks a seemingly dull procedural issue addressed only in separate opinions by Justices Stevens and Scalia: whether the Court should have heard the case in the first place. As he did in three cases from the Court’s 2005 term, Justice Stevens argued in Marsh that the Court has no legitimate interest in reviewing state court decisions that overprotect federal constitutional rights. Instead, the Supreme Court should exercise its certiorari power to tip the scales against states and in favor of individuals. Granting certiorari in Marsh, Stevens argued, was ...


Putting The Guesswork Back Into Capital Sentencing, Sean D. O'Brien Jan 2006

Putting The Guesswork Back Into Capital Sentencing, Sean D. O'Brien

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

In 1972, in Furman v. Georgia, the Supreme Court deemed it “incon-testable” that a death sentence is cruel and unusual if inflicted “by reason of [the defendant’s] race, religion, wealth, social position, or class, or if it is imposed under a procedure that gives room for the play of such prejudices.” Arbitrary and discriminatory patterns in capital sentencing moved the Court to strike down death penalty statutes that required judges or juries to cast thumbs-up or thumbs-down verdicts against offenders found guilty of capi-tal crimes. The issue of innocence was barely a footnote in Furman; the Court’s concerns ...


Davis V. Washington And Hammon V. Indiana: Beating Expectations, Robert P. Mosteller Jan 2006

Davis V. Washington And Hammon V. Indiana: Beating Expectations, Robert P. Mosteller

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

I begin with a question of effectiveness: does the new Confrontation Clause doctrine effectively protect defendants with respect to the most im-portant types of problematic out-of-court statements? Although they leave much room for the introduction of hearsay in the immediate aftermath of crime generally, Davis v. Washington and Hammon v. Indiana (together hereinafter Davis) are better opinions from that broad perspective than I had feared. The new doctrine now covers and provides substantial procedural protection for a very important class of problematic hearsay—statements made to government agents investigating past crime.


Davis And Hammon: A Step Forward, Or A Step Back?, Tom Lininger Jan 2006

Davis And Hammon: A Step Forward, Or A Step Back?, Tom Lininger

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

Prosecutors, defense attorneys, and lower court judges hoped that the Supreme Court’s ruling in the consolidated cases of Davis v. Washington and Hammon v. Indiana (hereafter simply Davis) would provide a primer on testimonial hearsay. In retrospect, these hopes were somewhat unrealistic. The Davis ruling could not possibly clear up all the confusion that followed Crawford v. Washington, the landmark 2004 case in which the Court strengthened the right of the accused to confront declarants of testimonial hearsay. In Davis, the Court focused on the facts under review and developed a taxonomy that will be useful in similar cases ...


Refining Crawford: The Confrontation Claus After Davis V. Washington And Hammon V. Indiana, Andrew C. Fine Jan 2006

Refining Crawford: The Confrontation Claus After Davis V. Washington And Hammon V. Indiana, Andrew C. Fine

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

Clarification of the Supreme Court’s newly minted interpretation of the Confrontation Clause was desperately needed, and Davis v. Washington and Hammon v. Indiana promised to provide it. Two terms earlier, in Crawford v. Washington, the Supreme Court had worked a revolutionary transformation of Confrontation Clause analysis by overruling Ohio v. Roberts and severing the link between hearsay jurisprudence and the Clause. Crawford was hailed by the criminal defense bar, since it seemed to presage a sharp reduction in the frequency of so-called “victimless” trials by holding that “testimonial” hearsay, no matter how reliable, was constitutionally inadmissible in the absence ...


Circling Around The Confrontation Clause: Redefined Reach But Not A Robust Right, Lisa Kern Griffin Jan 2006

Circling Around The Confrontation Clause: Redefined Reach But Not A Robust Right, Lisa Kern Griffin

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

The Supreme Court’s consolidated ruling in United States v. Davis and United States v. Hammon is a classic of the genre of consensus opinions to which the Roberts Court aspired in its first, transitional term. The opinion, authored by Justice Scalia, contains practical accommodations unusual in a decision by the Court’s fiercest proponent of first principles. The restraint that characterized the term is, of course, more about considerations of logistics (including the desire to avoid re-arguments after the mid-term replacement of Justice O’Connor) than about the alignment of logic. Because it reflects temporary institutional constraints rather than ...


Davis/Hammon, Domestic Violence, And The Supreme Court: The Case For Cautious Optimism, Joan S. Meier Jan 2006

Davis/Hammon, Domestic Violence, And The Supreme Court: The Case For Cautious Optimism, Joan S. Meier

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

The Supreme Court’s consolidated decision in Davis v. Washington and Hammon v. Indiana offers something for everyone: by “splitting the difference” between the two cases—affirming one and reversing the other—the opinion provides much grist for advocates’ mills on both sides of this issue. While advocates for defendants’ rights are celebrating the opinion’s continued revitalization of the right to confrontation, which began in Crawford v. Washington, advocates for victims have cause for celebration as well: the decision is notable for its reflection of the Court’s growing—albeit incomplete— awareness and understanding of the dynamics of domestic ...