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Belmontes Coverage


Here is some of the press coverage of yesterday's Belmontes decision.

The New York Times site has two stories, one by David Stout yesterday and one by Linda Greenhouse today. The latter offers an explanation for why a 5-4 decision came out so quickly. This case was "relisted" for Supreme Court conferences nine times before certiorari was granted. This indicates that some of the Justices believed the Ninth Circuit decision was so clearly wrong it should be summarily reversed -- no need for briefing and oral argument. That position couldn't quite muster five votes, but the consideration of it no doubt generated extensive memos and possibly a draft opinion and dissent. With the opinions largely written before oral argument and no surprises there, not much remained to be done.

David Savage in the L.A. Times emphasizes the continuing clash between the Supreme Court majority and notorious Ninth Circuit. He also quotes the defense lawyer saying the case would continue on ineffective assistance claims.

Layla Bohm of the Lodi News-Sentinel provides the local perspective, including comments from Steacy McConnell's mother.

Here are Mark Sherman for AP, Bob Egelko in the SF Chron, and Robert Barnes in the WashPost.


Assuming that the case goes back to that panel (with Paez and Reinhardt), it is likely (a) that the case will take forever and (b) they'll toss the death sentence again anyway.

Something needs to be done. And it is interesting to me how Stevens gets all sanctimonious about California's interest in executing Belmontes, yet ignores the plight of the victim's family. Given that the Supreme Court has explicitly recognized the interest of the victims in these cases, Stevens' one-sided display is nauseating. And Reinhardt and Paez ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Unintended irony and lack of self insight Justice Stevens is evident from Stevens' closing sentence in his Belmontes dissent:

"The incremental value to California of carrying out a death sentence at this late date is far outweighed by the interest in maintaining confidence in the fairness of any proceeding that results in a State’s decision to take the life of one of its citizens."

Nothing detracts more from public confidence in the system than the fact that it takes until such a "late date" to resolve these types of issues.

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