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Judge Sotomayor's 2008 Criminal Decisions:  Yesterday, Corey Rayburn Yung had a post ranking Judge Sotomayor as an "activist judge."  Today, his Sex Crimes blog has a post weighing in on her criminal law record based on her 2008 decisions.  According to Yung, "Sotomayor is in line with the overall average" of appellate judges.  She decides criminal appeals in favor of the defendant 7.25% of the time, but, "[n]otably, she is a bit tougher on the government than other appellate judges with some prosecutor experience."  Yung's statistics do not tell the entire story however, he has "specifically exclude[d] habeas cases" from his dataset. 

Competency to Assist Counsel, Panetti and Ford
Thanks to Doug Berman at Sentencing Law and Policy for posting the SSRN link to Christopher Seeds article, "The Afterlife of Ford and Panetti: Execution Competence and the Capacity to Assist Counsel." Seeds, an Adjunct Law Professor at Cornell and former Deputy Capital Defender, advocates reinstating the capacity to assist counsel into the test for what is "cruel and unusual" under the Eighth Amendment.  Seeds argues that the capacity to assist counsel and communicate a defense once held a central place in assessing competence for execution, but that in 1986, Ford v. Wainwright removed capacity to assist counsel as a consideration.  He believes Panetti v. Quarterman may have created an opportunity to reinstate capacity to assist counsel as a consideration.

Impeaching U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent:  At Blog of Legal Times, Tony Mauro writes that the Fifth Circuit has recommended that Judge Kent be impeached and not be given disability status after he "pled guilty to molestation and obstruction of justice in connection with an investigation into charges that he sexually harassed court employees."  Judge Kent apparently requested disability status so that he could continue drawing a salary while in prison - which he should enter next month.  Chief Judge Edith Jones advised against disability status, reasoning that "a claimant should not profit from his own wrongdoing by engaging in criminal misconduct and then collecting a federal retirement salary for the disability related to the prosecution."  Howard Bashman provides a link to a Houston Chronicle story on the Fifth Circuit's decision at How Appealing.   
 
Judge Sotomayor Dissents in Prison Disenfranchisement Case:  At Bench Memos, Roger Clegg reports on Judge Sotomayor's dissent in Hayden v. Pataki, a case in which both Clegg and the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation participated as Amici.  (The brief can be found here.)  Clegg writes that Hayden addressed whether prison inmates had the right to vote.  The Second Circuit rejected the inmates' argument that New York's "law disenfranchising prison inmates and parolees deprives them of the right to vote on 'account of race,' and [was] contrary to the federal Voting Rights Act."  Judge Sotomayor dissented because the Voting Rights Act addressed "voting qualification[s]," and ยง 2 of the Act subjected felony disenfranchisement to its qualifications.  She wrote: "The duty of a judge is to follow the law, not to question its plain terms. I do not believe that Congress wishes us to disregard the plain language of any statute or to invent exceptions to the statutes it has created."

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