John Thompson has an eloquent reply to a bare majority of the Supreme Court’s appalling recent contention that nobody should be held accountable if prosecutors decide to railroad an innocent man to the death chamber.
…as an addendum, I think this point from Kieran’s recent post on the subject is worth highlighting:
To be fair to the system, it’s worse than that. Once the initial wrongdoing came to trial a jury, the district court, and the 5th circuit (twice) all decided the other way. It’s only when we get to Thomas, Scalia, Roberts, Alito, and Kennedy that the system chose to further institutionalize prosecutorial immunity.
It should be made clear that — even before we get to the fact that the Supreme Court can always choose to overrule or find ways around its own precedents — that while the existing law permitted the ruling issued by the Five Horsemen, it certainly didn’t require it: a majority of the federal judges to hear the case voted the other way.
Also, if the Scalia/Alito concurrence wasn’t enough of a window into the emptiness and brutality of contemporary conservative jurisprudence, I recommend the opinion in 5CA’s en banc ruling (technically, a split vote that therefore upheld the panel’s judgment in favor of Thompson) by wingnut’s wingnut Edith Jones. Among other gems, I like her assertion that “public confidence will erode if the public believe a prosecutorial office is motivated by the impulse to cover itself when challenged by difficult prosecutions.” Public confidence in the DA’s office, apparently, will not be eroded if prosecutors send innocent people to death row by violating their civil rights, so we needn’t worry about creating incentives discouraging DAs from
illegal “difficult” prosecutions. And if by “public” you mean “Edith Jones” — which seems to be what she means — it won’t!